Window to Discovery Project
Wild Fish Conservancy introduced the Window to Discovery Project to several elementary-school classes in 2005 as a two-year pilot project to learn how best to use computers and video cameras to create an online window into the natural world.
Window to Discovery was originally developed as an extension to Environmental Discovery Program field trips. One of the first questions students invariably ask during their field trip is “will I see the animal I researched?” Students research a variety of animals ranging from mayflies and spiders to beavers, coyotes, snakes, voles, and bald eagles. While encouraged to look for signs of their animals or for habitats their animal would use, students rarely see their animal first-hand. The commotion often created by a group of elementary students effectively scares off any sensitive wildlife. To help students observe wildlife under natural conditions, we decided to try a less obtrusive method of exploration.
A Remote Window
Remote video technology allows students to observe animals they are otherwise unlikely to encounter, learn what an ecosystem looks like when it is undisturbed by human presence or activity, and develop a comprehensive perspective on how, where, and when wildlife use select habitats.
Window to Discovery lets students observe and ask questions about what they see, and encourages them to think critically about what they don't see. They make observations, develop hypotheses, and collect observable data to test their theories. Students identify locations where they want to set up above ground or underwater cameras for their experiments and then project-instructors help them plan how long and when the cameras should be recording, creating targeted video segments or accumulating time-lapse sequences. On return to their classrooms, students and instructors investigate what they've captured on video.
Building on What Works Best
We are encouraged and excited that Window to Discovery is resonating with students and teachers. Looking for evidence and developing and testing hypotheses triggers student curiosity, enhances their awareness and appreciation of nature, and encourages them to view science as a tool for discovery and adventure. We are currently working with teachers to see what works best, align lessons with Washington learning standards, and develop guidelines for incorporating Window to Discovery into classrooms.
To view student videos, learn about participating in Window to Discovery, get more information about the developing curriculum and guidelines, or learn about other Wild Fish Conservancy education programs, contact Wild Fish Conservancy Education Coordinator Casey Ralston or call 425/7881167.