Talon. . . Aerie. . . Raptor! These words fly to mind as Geneva Day School pre-kindergartners pull out their science notebooks for observation of the National Arboretum Eagle Camera.
Trained on a nest, tucked high in a poplar tree, this live camera reveals how Mr. President and First Lady, a bonded pair of bald eagles, prepare to be parents. STEAM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Art-Mathematics) powers this innovative Pre-kindergarten program, as it does all others within Geneva Day School.
“Children love Science Fridays and the STEAM projects in which they are engaged,” said pre-kindergarten teacher Mrs. Pyle, who has authored this dynamic curriculum for the past 18 years.
Science Fridays Lead to Exploration and Wonder
“Every Friday is a big Science day with experiments and questions to answer. The students use the Eagle Cam to make use of Technology,” she explained.
Bald eagles usually raise at least two or three young in the spring. As their lifecycle unfolds, live and unedited (National Geographic style), student-scientists acquire nature vocabulary. From hatchings to feedings, they make observations and hypothesize about the eagle young, graphing their predictions.
“Student-scientists find their journals and also draw what they see,” said Mrs. Pyle. “Of course, we talk about it and explain what is happening, too.”
Such conversation defines the constant dialogue between students and their teachers. An interactive, spiraling curriculum weaves all elements of STEAM, characterizing the Geneva Method.
Full STEAM Ahead
As the Eagle Cam delivers highly pixelated footage to the classroom, equally dynamic scenes dance outside its wide windows. A Monarch Butterfly Waystation, emblematic of the school’s Maryland Green School status, brims with milkweed. Students water this garden and tend to nearby bird feeders which bring both birds and squirrels close. The almost seamless relationship with the out-of-doors encourages gazing, as well as National Arboretum observation. In Art Class, students draw trees, create bark-rubbings, and explore Native American legends, some of which evoke the bald eagle.
Named “Best Preschool” by readers of Bethesda Magazine for a fifth award cycle, the school is delighted to engage its student-scientists through its many programs and classes.
“Alumni often remark that this [Eagle Cam] project is the highlight of their year in pre-kindergarten,” said Mrs. Pyle. “Many continue to follow the President and First Lady each year on their own computers!” Likewise, the adventures and discoveries of students may be followed via the school’s online presence.
Truly, this Bald Eagle Study grants wings to student-scientists at Geneva Day School.