Fill The Winter Break With This Fun – And Free – Scientific Challenge

Fill The Winter Break With This Fun – And Free – Scientific Challenge

Ever wonder about the birds that call your backyard home? Looking for an activity that’s fun, free and easy to fill some downtime over the winter break?

Headwaters Science Institute has you covered with our new Winter Break Backyard Bird Challenge! Over the last week of the year, from Dec. 27-31, we’ve created a challenge to keep students outside and engaged scientifically over winter break. This challenge will guide students through the scientific research process, all while using data gathered in their own backyard.

students use nets to find invertebrates in shallow water

To take part in our Winter Backyard Bird Challenge, you will need to have a bird feeder nearby where students can observe avian visitors. We recommend having your bird feeder set up at least five days before the start of the challenge, so that birds have time to locate the feeder and get used to its presence.

Over the course of the challenge, students will record what birds they observe at their feeder. Students can then submit their data to Headwaters, and will use the data they and their peers collect to answer the research question they developed at the beginning of the challenge. Click here to register for the challenge. 

To get a head start on our Winter Break Backyard Bird Challenge, please review our Bird Feeder video to learn more about why it’s important to study birds and instructions on how to make a DIY bird feeder. Then, review our Pre-lesson Activity for a short reading assignment that will help your student get ready for our challenge. 

This post will serve as the home for this challenge, and we will post updates and links in this space to guide students throughout the process. The schedule of events for the Winter Backyard Bird Challenge is as follows:

Day 1: Monday, December 27 

Learn how to ask scientific questions and design your research project. Click here for your guide.


Day 2: Tuesday, December 28 

*LIVE Session* 3PM EST/12PM PST 

Community Interaction & Data Collection. Watch the replay here


Day 3 Wednesday, December 29: 

“Lunch with a Scientist” with Mark Stanback: Biology Professor at Davidson University. View the talk here. Find the activity worksheet here


Day 4 Thursday, December 30: 

*LIVE Session* 3PM EST/12PM PST: Mark Stanback Q and A 


Day 5 Friday, December 31: 

*LIVE Session* 3PM EST/12PM PST: Bird feeder results and drawing conclusions. 


We are so excited for your student to be joining us on this research adventure. Stay tuned in the coming days for more information about the Headwaters Winter Break Backyard Bird Challenge. Happy bird watching!

students use nets to find invertebrates in shallow water