Students share lessons on environment

Published 1:06 am Thursday, April 10, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- If Ballard 6th graders didn't know much about bats, they probably couldn't avoid learning something about them Wednesday.
Five Niles High School seniors, who will participate in the State Envirothon at the end of this school year, came to Ballard to share their bat knowledge.
The Envirothon is a program for high school students designed to cultivate a desire to learn more about our natural resources and environmental issues through competitive events.
Katie Burrous, one of the high school seniors, said in preparation for the Envirothon, the high school students must do community service.
In this instance, the community service was to teach a class about a chosen topic, she said.
The paper they write will be used for assessment and to further prepare the high school students for the Envirothon taking place in Everett, just before school ends this summer, she said.
And the 6th grade Ballard students, who had the chance to find out what bats are all about, learned that the animal is unique and important to the environment in its own way.
High School senior Wendy Simanton first told the 6th graders bats are the best bug killers in the world.
Simanton also explained how bats pollinate bananas, fikes, mangoes and a few other plants and trees.
The 6th graders more than cringed when Simanton told them that these days, bat guano is also used in washing detergents.
Josh Mann, the second senior to present, talked about bats' echo location and their ability to judge objects and distances based on their "natural" radar.
Their "radar", he said, by far supercedes any radar humans have created so far.
He added, however, that not all bats use echo location to navigate.
Adam Passig and Catie Kenny talked about bats' habitats and their anatomy, while Katie Burrous asked the 6th graders questions related to the many myths surrounding bats.
During the presentation, Katie Burrous walked around in the classroom and showed the 6th graders a stuffed bat obtained from Fernwood Botanical Garden.
Although many were sceptical of touching the big-winged tiny creature, some patted it.
Toward the end of the presentation, the high school students took questions from the 6th grade students.
The presentation had apparently caught the 6th graders attention, based on the amount of hands that went up in the air.
To round up the presentation, the 6th graders were divided in three groups and played "Bat-Jeopardy."
Based on the rapid, informed answers the 6th graders provided, the high school students must have done something right during their presentation.