Sample Entries: Sample 4

Judging

National Championship Week PhotoSample 4

Batty 4 Bats

Coach: Suzanne Greenwood
Community: Parkville, Missouri
Status Achieved: First-Place Winner

Section 1: The Issue

Three species of bats — the Gray, Ozark Big-Eared and Indiana — from the team's home state of Missouri have been identified as endangered species. Because of the proliferation of negative myths about bats, few people are concerned about trying to save and preserve bat populations, as they have been eager to do with other endangered species. The extinction of these bats would lead to an overpopulation of crop-destroying insects, which are the bats' primary food source.

Section 2: Research

The team contacted the Parkville Nature Sanctuary, Bat Conservation International and the Missouri Department of Conservation, and reviewed many books, videos and Internet sites to gather information about bats and their habits, the benefits they provide to the environment, and the unfounded fears that humans have about them. What they realized is that bats are intelligent, clean, gentle animals, basically harmless to humans. A single bat can consume up to 2,000 insects in a single night, helping to protect local crops from pests. And contrary to popular belief, only about 1 percent are infected with rabies.

Section 3: Testing

Convinced that people would help save bats if they were better educated about them, the team planned a "Batty 4 Bats Nite" in their community. The event, which attracted 200 people, included 12 hands-on learning stations, a simulated bat cave and other games and activities designed to teach families about bats. Each child who attended was required to complete a true/false survey on his/her knowledge of bats both before and after the event. The results indicated that the event successfully educated the students about bats. Parents lent their support by contributing money for library books about bats. The team also sold "Batty 4 Bats" T-shirts, the proceeds of which were donated to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Section 4: The Solution

Educating people about the value of bats and dispelling unreasonable fears about them is key to motivating people to help protect them. The team felt that spreading the good word about bats through programs similar to "Batty 4 Bats Nite" could eventually lead to the removal of several bat species from the endangered species list.

Visual Presentation:

Photographic series.

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