Project Passenger Pigeon

Lessons from the Past for a Sustainable Future


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Lessons for Elementary School Students

Single-lesson activities for elementary and middle grades
To prepare teachers to address resource conservation and species protection issues highlighted by the passenger pigeon extinction, P3 will develop and distribute a selection of single-lesson activities for elementary and middle grades. P3 will also encourage teachers to engage their students in marking the centenary of the passenger pigeon extinction by providing lessons about biodiversity and changes to ecosystems that intertwine the story of the passenger pigeon with contemporary issues.

Making use of the highest standards of effective science education
The curriculum and lessons developed as part of P3 will make use of the most up-to-date research in, and standards of, effective science education. This will include use of the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards.

This material will also make use of the Project's exhibit components that will be displayed around the country and available on this website. All educational materials will be available here for free downloading.

Related elementary school materials from other sources will also be downloadable here as they become available.

Lesson Plan #1 for 5th-10th grades: What is the Passenger Pigeon? (Provider: Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum)
In this lesson, students are introduced to the story of the passenger pigeon and the role that humans played in this story. Students use video, images, and nonfiction texts to learn about the size of passenger pigeon flocks and their impacts on the people who witnessed them. Students make personal connections to the passenger pigeon and its story.
Link for lesson plan: Lesson 1: What is the Passenger Pigeon?
Link for Rock Pigeon Image: Click Here
Link for Passenger Pigeon Image: Click Here

Lesson Plan #2 for 5th-10th grades: State Historical Records (Provider: Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum)
In this lesson, students watch a video clip from the From Billions to None documentary to learn about the history of the passenger pigeon in North America and about the institutions that have preserved the record of these amazing birds. Students then analyze historical data from their own state and discuss passenger pigeon movements and population changes throughout the state.
Link for lesson plan: Lesson 2: State Historical Records
Link for Historical Record Cards: Click Here
Link for Historical Record Cards Template[Powerpoint]: Click Here
Link for Illinois County Map: Click Here

Lesson Plan #3. Lesson plan for grade 6 Science: Passenger Pigeons: Nomads Lost (Provider: American Association for the Advancement of Science)
In this lesson, students explore the concept and implications of extinction using the example of the Passenger Pigeon, once an extremely abundant species that was completely eliminated by humans. Students also investigate how the technologies that were seemingly unrelated to the loss of the bird were actually central to its extinction. Developed by Drs. Penny Firth of the U.S. National Science Foundation, and David Blockstein of the National Council for Science and the Environment, as part of a set of interdisciplinary Science NetLinks, these lessons aim to improve understanding of environmental phenomena and events. Using resources provided by Science NetLinks, students construct historical timelines from when Passenger Pigeons still existed. While researching, students will be guided through the story of the Passenger Pigeon, including what the bird was like, how it migrated, how it raised its young, its strategies for survival, and finally the factors that led to its extinction. As a final activity, students work in pairs or teams to design and construct a Passenger Pigeon Totem Pole from Styrofoam, cardboard, or similar lightweight materials. Science NetLinks provides detailed instructions for all part of this lesson, including links to other sites that contain information about the Passenger Pigeon.
Link for lesson plan: Passenger Pigeons Nomads Lost

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