Student Research Team

Sci High students launch research team to study Louisiana’s bat population.

Sci High students, Tia and Tamera, envisioned this innovative research program in November 2018 when their bat research project earned them a second place finish at the GNO Regional Science Fair. Eager to continue their work predicting changes in bat behavior in response to the environment, the students requested that the school sponsor their initiative. Dr. Loftus, Science Coordinator, enthusiastically took on the challenge. The students took a leadership role in the team’s recruitment and planning, as well as in research focus and design.    

In May 2019, the newly formed Student Research Team set out to prepare for summer field research at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON). Preparation included installing data collection monitors and developing an understanding of the collection, management, and analysis of scientific data. This step required students to conduct research tasks such as site prospecting, sensor placement and maintenance, and the use of data management software. Additionally, students studied relevant scientific principles in biology, taxonomy, physiology and ecology.

In August 2019, the student researchers traveled to LUMCON to spend multiple days collecting data on bat activity in the Louisiana wetlands. While at LUMCON, students deployed stationary bat detectors, used handheld ultrasonic microphones to monitor bats in real time.  experimental design, and ecological field techniques During the three day trip, students participated in intensive workshops led by Dr. Craig Hood, E. Letitia Beard Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences at Loyola University. Dr. Hood taught the students about bat biology and identification of bat species from acoustic files. Students used emerging computer science skills to analyze findings and technical writing skills to prepare their work for publication. 

Through this program, Sci High students enjoy deep learning through real-world application of emerging skills required for college success — research principles and frameworks, field techniques, and learning to collaborate with university scientists.

“I am proud to be a student researcher” 

Tia, 12th grader, founding member of the Student Research Team, studying the effects of major weather events on bat activity in New Orleans

The Student Research Team will continue their studies in partnership with LUMCON, Dr. Hood and Dr. Loftus, as student researchers have already developed independent research questions to investigate and have designed a deployment plan for the 2019-2020 school year. Specifically, students will investigate the effect of artificial light, extreme weather events, human-generated noise pollution, and seasonal insect swarms on bat activity in the Louisiana Wetlands. 

We are grateful for the generous contributions of our many donors who make this authentic research possible. Together, we are making good on our promise to prepare the next generation of scientists!

“Having the bat detectors is cool because I know a lot of schools don’t have the equipment to do real research.  Working on this project is going to help me develop skills I will need because I want to be a scientist”

Ronan, 11th grader, studying the effect of artificial light on bat activity in New Orleans