Jeanie Lai ’14, environmental science; Sarah Khalife ’14, computer engineering; Munanchu Poudel ’14, biological sciences; and Zayan Mahmooth ’12, bioinformatics, led by Melissa Huselton, service-learning coordinator at the Shriver Center, braved one of the first cold and blustery afternoons of the season to assist students at Arbutus Middle School install bluebird boxes on school grounds.
The middle school students are members of the Green Club at AMS, a new club organized this fall by teachers Michael Guarraia and Sean Astrakhan. Earlier in the year, Green Club members built and painted bluebird boxes. Installing poles at four locations on school grounds was one of the final steps in the project.
Guarraia quizzed his students about materials and procedures, and were then broken into groups with UMBC student volunteers.
The first objective was to dig holes in the ground, “as deep as the length between your elbow and your fingertips,” Guarraia reminded his students. After digging two holes at each site, bags of concrete mix were opened and mixed with water. The volunteers helped students find the proper mix-to-water ratio, which proved a bit of a challenge in some spots because of the previous day’s rain.
Next, students secured metal poles, cut and assembled by Guarraia and Astrakhan, into the concrete, taking special care to make sure they were level. Finally, the poles were secured by string tied to stakes in the ground. It would take about a day for the concrete to set in the colder weather, Guarraia said.
After the concrete had hardened, Green Club members planned to install their bluebird boxes atop the poles and hoped their birdhouses would soon have new inhabitants.