Winky And The Raptor Trust Visit Angelo L. Tomaso School In Warren

WARREN, NJ - During the month of April, first graders at Angelo L. Tomaso School embarked on a research journey discovering the amazing creatures we call raptors. To culminate their project, the school’s PTO sponsored a presentation by the Raptor Trust on May 1, 2014. A major highlight of the presentation was an introduction to “Winky”, an Eastern Screech Owl, who is now a permanent resident of the Raptor Trust and an educator himself.​
At the start of the project, students brainstormed many intriguing questions about these predatory birds. Their teachers, Elena Marinello, Cheryl Plager, and Karen Wilkening helped students find the answers to these questions while integrating 21st century skills and adhering to the Common Core State Standards.
Preliminarily, the children skimmed many books and websites for an overview of raptors such as hawks, eagles, falcons, owls, and vultures. Afterwards, they each chose one raptor in particular and proceeded to investigate their bird of prey with a great deal of excitement. Their curiosity about the raptors was expressed purposefully through reading and writing. For example, they read pamphlets, magazine articles, and books to find answers to the questions they had. They recorded their findings and compiled a research report about their individual raptor.
 In addition, students improved their computer skills with guidance from Computer teacher Sheila Connelly. They added images to their research presentations while learning about the proper use of copyrighted material as well.

Raptors are very important to the world around us. They help keep the environment balanced as they hunt for rodents such as mice and rats. There are many fascinating predatory birds and many of them reside in New Jersey. The Raptor Trust shared information about the work they do maintaining an infirmary for a wide variety of birds who are either abandoned from their nests or injured. The Raptor Trust also has several aviaries which house non-releasable raptors including hawks, eagles, falcons, owls, and vultures. Many of the birds are not able to be released into the wild once it has been determined that they are unable to survive on their own. One non-releasable owl is “Winky” and it was a thrill for the students to observe a live owl up close.
The first graders benefited from the opportunity to consult with an expert on the topic of raptors, as well as to have a positive interaction with the local community. This experience heightened students’ awareness of the important role humans play in caring for the environment and its many beautiful creatures. Learning about the interconnectedness of all living things is crucial to a global perspective, which these youngsters will continue to develop as they learn and grow.

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