Thanks to a $2,250 Arizona Game and Fish heritage grant, fourth graders are collecting data on wildlife bridges with rugged trail cameras equipped with heat and motion sensors. The cameras were placed by the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Conservation adjacent to a wildlife crossing bridge near North Oracle Road. Images are sent electronically to the students.
Amid a desert landscape, fourth graders Gidget Flanigan and Maddy Lind made a discovery when they zoomed in on a photo on a laptop.
“We found a tiny squirrel in the middle of the picture eating its food,” Gidget said. “And a bunny,” added Maddy.
The girls are learning about data sorting in Donna Fisher’s fourth grade class at Manzanita Elementary School, as they help with a research project led by Orange Grove Middle School sixth-graders Luke Sadalla, Conner Bates, Sa’id Badareen and Maija Hildebrand.
Fourth graders received three lessons on habitat fragmentation, or why animals move throughout the Tucson area in search of shelter and food. Then, they were trained by the sixth graders on how to sort files. The training was facilitated by Jennifer DeBenedetti, teacher-leader for science and engineering practices for the Catalina Foothills Unified School District.
“We’re going to give the data to the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Conservation,” said Sa’id. “They’ll use the data for research to decide if the bridges are working.”