HEBRON — Four former Hebron Station School students became celebrities for the day as they returned to their elementary school to be feted by fellow students for their recently published work in an international magazine.

Gwenna Cyr, Jacob Mondor and Brandon Harris, now Oxford Hills Middle School students, had their research paper on how birds react to predators’ calls published in 2015 Bird Sleuth Investigator, an annual publication by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology for kindergarten through 12th-grade students.

Ethan Cutler, also an Oxford Hills Middle School student, had his scientific drawing of a Red Tail Hawk accepted into the issue. They were sixth-grade students at the Hebron Station School at the time they did the work.

On Monday morning, the four were celebrated at Hebron Station School, signing autographs for sixth-grade students who received a copy of the publication. They also ate a cake that was made to honor their accomplishments.

Cyr, Mondor and Harris believed the short-eared owl calls would not scare the birds away from feeders that were placed outside the students’ classroom as much as other predators such as bald eagles, peregrine falcons or Merlin calls. They believed their hypothesis was true based on the fact that owls are nocturnal and hunt at night while the other birds hunt during the day.

Their setup used an iPad, music speakers, bird feeders and bird food. They would play the preditors’ calls from the device when birds came to feed. Their research had to cite works used, show the results in charts and discuss and analyze the experiment.

Eventually, their hypothesis was proven wrong when they found the short-eared owl’s noice was actually the call birds feared most. The students said they felt the owls call did not sound scary.

Lydia Eusden, the grade five and six STEM teacher at Hebron Station School, said her class has participated in Project Feeder Watch for both mathematics and science since 2009. In it, students learn how to identify different bird species, create data collection tables and keep track of weather information which relates to bird activity, she said.

“Last year, I collaborated with Headwaters Science Institute to develop the Hebron Station School Project Feeder Watch data in a more meaningful way for grade five and six students,” she said. “An alumna from the OHCHS graduating Class of 2008 and executive director of Headwaters Science Institute returned to the Oxford Hills area to offer a professional development opportunity for me in my STEM classroom and worked with my students.”

Eusden said the student-driven research was used as a framework, designed as a simple step-by-step guide for students to ask their own questions and do their own research. Students used all eight of the Next Generation Science Standards practices in science during their work.

Additionally, Oxford Hills School District Librarian Cindy Petheridge instructed students on how to navigate the state of Maine Education Commission’s approved Internet resources, which provided students an easy and credible way to cite abstracts and articles in their own writing, Eusden said.

The students worked in small groups to create a science project connected to the classroom bird feeders in some way.

Cyr, Mondor and Harris worked together to research how birds react to predator calls and submitted their work for review and eventual acceptance for publication by the editors. Cutler said he used a photograph of a red hawk to draw his illustration. It took him two days to complete, he said.

“To have their writing published in the 2015 issue speaks strongly of their perseverance in working hard on their project. It also demonstrates how the new district initiative of inclusive STEM and humanities classrooms for grade five and six students can produce student work, which is creative and innovative using the writing process,” Eusden said.

A copy of the signed publication will be hung in the central office in the administration building in Paris, said Superintendent Rick Colpitts, who was at the celebration along with Middle School Principal Troy Eastman.

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: