Kyle Davis receives Superior Rating at State Science Day
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
Anyone who has wandered the aisles during the Big Walnut Science Fair is aware of Kyle Davis. He’s the student that has been turning an interest in Ornithology into science fair projects that have earned Superior ratings year after year since the fifth grade, and more than one trip to State Science Day.
Davis, now a Big Walnut High School freshman, not only scored Superior at this year’s Big Walnut Science Fair with his project, Rufous-collared Sparrow: Size Variation with Altitude, he also scored Superior at Central District Science Day at Columbus State, and at the Saturday, May 5, Ohio Academy of Science State Science Day at The Ohio State University.
It was at State Science Day that the quality of Davis’ Ornithological research became apparent. He’s only a freshman, right? And that ninth grade trip to State Science Day is where most freshmen learn the ropes; where they find out to exactly what level they have to take their work to in order to earn prizes in subsequent years.
But for those who have followed the work of Kyle Davis over the past five years it was not surprising that he came home with a Governor’s Thomas Edison Award for Excellence in Information Science & Technology Research, a National Association of Biology Teachers Award, and an Ohio Wesleyan University State Science Day Award.
Davis said he has been interested in birds since he was four years old when a barn owl lived in the family barn for the winter. He did his first science fair project in fifth grade under the direction of Big Walnut Elementary School teacher Rina Hoge.
That’s when Ohio Wesleyan University Ornithologist Dr. Edward Burtt, a.k.a. Dr. Jed, noticed Davis, and his interest in birds was taken to a new level.
“Dr. Jed has been my mentor,” Davis said. “He’s helped with my projects and got me involved in other activities at Ohio Wesleyan. I’ve been bird netting with Dr. Jed since my first science fair project.”
At Big Walnut, Davis has been monitoring the 38 bird boxes surrounding the school, 10 more boxes will be installed this year, adding data to the bird trail pilot project. Many species use the bird boxes, Davis said. He typically sees bluebirds, tree swallows and wrens; and this year there’s a tufted titmouse – he said he’s never seen that one before.
To extend that bird box project’s research Davis said he hopes to get a banding license to see if the birds return to the local habitat. One does not just start banding birds, he explained; the Wildlife Division of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources regulates that activity.
Big Walnut High School science teacher Matt Wallschlaeger said banding is a very helpful tool when studying a local bird habitat.
“Banding is especially useful for understanding how much winter affects species,” Wallschlaeger said. “That’s what I’m hoping Kyle has the ability to do. But his State Science Day Superior performance and awards has been his first big step forward.”
Last week, Davis did a presentation for Wallschlaeger’s AP Environmental Science class, talked about the Bird Trail and walked students around, showing them the bird boxes.
“Kyle’s working in an area I’ve been interested in since I was his age, so we have a common core interest,” Wallschlaeger said. “I graduated from a school of environmental science with a natural resource major, so I’m interested to see where he’s going to end up; and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing him in my Environmental Science class.”