Thanks to Weidner School of Inquiry @ PHS learners, dozens of bats in the Plymouth area are going to be moving into brand new homes. Last month WSOI learners in Brittany Hull’s and Haley Church’s BioArt class took part in a project called Batty for Bats. The integrated course blends biology with art in a hands-on Project Based Learning style.
Hull said, “The project’s purpose was to have students dig deeper into their understanding of the biodiversity of the world around us and the benefits that each bat species provides to the world.” After all, there may be more myths about bats than any other animal or mammal. The Batty for Bats Project allowed students to learn how to identify the mammals via anatomical and molecular evidence, and explain how evolutionary developed traits help bats survive in specific environments. Hull said, “Students either chose to compare and contrast adaptations of local or native bat species to Indiana or animals that I came across in my travels this school year when I was on an educational research trip to Costa Rica.”
Hull received a $500 Learning to Give grant through a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization to fund the Batty for Bats Project. “Dozens of students in Scott Michel’s Agriculture, Power, Structure, and Technology class designed and built 23 bat houses. Then dozens of students from Church’s class had a hand in painting the houses,” said Hull.
Students also created giant Jenga pieces for a Costa Rican animal game they played while learning in Hull’s class. “The game demonstrated that when you pull one species out of the habitat, for instance, deforestation, poaching, climate change, it affects the stability and if you pull enough the whole thing can topple the biodiversity and health of that ecosystem,” said Hull.
Students had to research bat species or animals in Costa Rica and present their findings in front of their peers and community members.
Some common misconceptions about bats have led many people to regard the creatures as unclean disease carriers, but students learned that bats are actually very helpful in controlling the population of crop-destroying insects.
Hull said she collected authentic feedback from her students by having them fill out an anonymous survey to gauge the scope of the project. Below are some of the student’s comments.
"It was really cool learning about all of my animal's adaptations. I never knew that bats were so important in keeping mosquitoes and other bugs in check!"
"I can't wait to see my bat house in the park. My group partner and I worked really hard, and we are both proud of how it came out."
"This was a neat project. Not only did I get to learn about my favorite animal, sloths, but I got to share their awesomeness with my friends and classmates too!"
"I didn't think I could do this, so I am surprised that it came out looking pretty good."
Twelve of the bat houses will be put up in the community to be used for bats in our local parks. The remaining eleven will be placed near Plymouth elementary schools, Riverside Intermediate School, and other public gathering places around town such as the library. Near each house will be a laminated bat fact card to help raise awareness about the importance of these gentle and intelligent creatures.
The bat fact cards were made by college students with additional information provided by Associate Professor Joy O'Keefe, who is also the Department of Biology Director, at the Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation at Indiana State University.
There are more than 900 species of bats in the world. Some experts estimate the number to be as high as 1,200 species.
WSOI Students with Bat Houses
WSOI Students with Jenga Game Pieces