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1 September 2017 Educational Applications of Small-Mammal Skeletal Remains Found in Discarded Bottles
M. Patrick Brannon, Janis K.H. Brannon, Richard E. Baird
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Environmental literacy is becoming an increasingly important part of national and state curriculum standards. Scientists can assist teachers by providing citizen-science research opportunities and other educational outreach programs for local students. Middle school students from Summit Charter School in Cashiers, Jackson County, NC, in conjunction with a roadside litter cleanup community-service project, assisted researchers from the Highlands Biological Station who were examining discarded bottles as a source of smallmammal mortality. Students sorted and weighed recyclable materials and inspected open bottles for small-mammal remains. They collected approximately 141 kg of trash along 2 roads near their school, 59.4% of which was recyclable material consisting primarily of glass and plastic bottles. Students removed 8 specimens from 5 bottles, including 6 Blarina brevicauda (Northern Short-tailed Shrew), 1 Sorex cinereus (Masked Shrew), and 1 S. fumeus (Smoky Shrew). Students learned to distinguish small-mammal skulls based on dentition and other cranial characteristics while using dichotomous keys, and reconstructed skeletons using anatomical diagrams traditionally used for owl-pellet dissections. Educational programs that incorporate immersive, hands-on, real-world experiences, especially those that use the local community as a framework, can enhance students' appreciation for the natural world and provide the knowledge and skills they will require to make informed environmental decisions as future community leaders.

M. Patrick Brannon, Janis K.H. Brannon, and Richard E. Baird "Educational Applications of Small-Mammal Skeletal Remains Found in Discarded Bottles," Southeastern Naturalist 16(sp10), 4-10, (1 September 2017).
Published: 1 September 2017

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