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VCS Students Develop Wildlife Monitoring System Near Cambrian Rise Development

South Burlington, Vermont – As part of a newly launched service program at the Vermont Commons School, students in science teacher Peter Goff’s multi-grade advisory have been developing a system to monitor wildlife at the site of Cambrian Rise, a 20 acre, 730 unit housing development on Burlington’s North Avenue. The location is a prime migration corridor for several animal species, such as red and gray foxes, deer, porcupines, bobcats, and turtles. After proposing the idea of creating a system to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources in the fall of 2018, Goff and his advisory visited AJ Rossman at the Internet of Things (IoT) Conduit, a Burlington-based company that partners with businesses, non-profits, and higher educational organizations to address environmental issues using smart technology. Rossman says that he was excited “to give students hands-on exposure to a smart neighborhood concept, as well as the ability to help shape the vision for wildlife corridors across North Avenue in spite of increased development pressure.”

Goff’s students began the project by taking a tour of the area around the new development, which includes fields, woods, and a section of the Burlington Bike Path. They looked for tracks and other signs of likely animal migrants. Next, they created an iNaturalist site to archive their observations, and purchased wildlife cameras to test existing systems and methods. The students then began building their own systems, based on the prototypes Rossman had showed them. Goff states, “Once we have tested our hardware, we will meet with IoT again to determine how best to build a wildlife-monitoring system to determine the health of this important wildlife corridor. Next steps would be to pilot-test a system that uses an Internet of Things wireless network in the field.”

Magnus, a rising 10th grader involved in the project, says, “We, the students, are getting an inside look at what they are doing with the Cambrian Rise project… I have so far experienced the trouble shooting aspects of working as an electrical engineer while working with game cameras. This year was more focused on grasping the project, but next year we will become even more familiar with electrical  engineering when we build some of our own game cameras.” Goff and his students hope that the information their system records will help the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources better understand and address the impact that Cambrian Rise has on area wildlife.

Other organizations partnering with VCS for their monthly service program include the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Vermont, the Lund Family Center, and Branch Out Burlington. VCS hopes that these partnerships to extend well into the future, and that both organizations and students will benefit from working together.

Scholarship. Community. Global Responsibility.

At Vermont Commons School, our goal is to engage students with their world. We achieve this through programs and a curriculum grounded in local and global involvement.