Bioacoustics in an Urban Setting ~ Listen Quietly
Christina Yee
teaches Physics, Algebra, and Geometry at Charlestown High School.


Students: Grades 9 &10 Physics class of English Language Learners & Grades 9-12 class of Special Education English Language Arts
Collaboration with Charlestown High
Teacher Karen Prussing;
Birds and Beyond, Mass. Audubon Society; Boston College Urban Ecology Institute (UEI), Tina Bosch, Vista Fellow; Donald Kroodsma, Author; MASSPORT Little Mystic Channel; Project STAMP Kyle Jellison, K-12 Fellow; Raven Software, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology (CLO).

Classroom Activities
Watch CLO video Birding, a student led field study of urban birds
Read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem The Birds of Killingworth
Use RAVEN software to interpret bird sound recordings
Create PowerPoint presentation on sounds, spectrograms & birds
Work with Vista Fellow on keeping Birding Journals, corresponding with birders & identifying bird songs
Community Activities
Take field trips to Little Mystic River local field site near school
Test river water & examine newly planted bushes & vegetation that encourage bird biodiversity
Record bird sounds at site
Attend lecture at Harvard Museum of Natural History by author of The Singing Life of Birds
Invite classes to PowerPoint presentation
Present project at Fifth Annual Student Research Conference at Boston College UEI
Contribute illustrations to UEI student newsletter eco[tone]
Teacher Reflections
This project enabled us to encourage Special Education students and English Language Learners to listen, communicate, and socialize with volunteers, partners, and organizations that helped us. We encouraged students to be aware of the natural resources around the school and to utilize them. Using RAVEN software was critical, and students were able to overcome their language difficulties to learn to understand and utilize the program in order to interpret their sound recordings. I am proud of my students for all their accomplishments and for having the courage to present before a large audience, speaking a language they’re just acquiring.

Student Reflections
Growing up in a Chinese city, I didn’t see many birds. Through this project and the sound waves lessons from the RAVEN program, I learned how the bird sounds we recorded in the field showed up on a spectrogram. Ms. Bosch taught us how to interpret the sound wave diagram. High pitch has high frequency; low pitch has lower frequency. Birds use their songs to communicate and show their feelings. We did a presentation about our project at the Annual Urban Ecology Institute This was the first time that I had to speak in front of so many people. I learned a lot from other students who did similar projects. Now I hear birds singing in the morning, and I encourage friends and neighbors to enjoy the natural songs that calm us down.

TeachNet Service Learning is administered by Boston Public Schools Affiliate IMPACT II @ High School Renewal.
Supporting TeachNet are Special Assistant to the Superintendent for High School Renewal, Kathleen Mullin; IMPACT II Affiliate Director Barbara Locurto; WebMaster Andrew Binns; Web Advisor Linda Younis, High School Renewal; School to Career Program: Linda Younis; Project Assistant Jean Gibran. For more information, email

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