Every year a group of partners help organize a National Bat Week designed to raise awareness for bat conservation worldwide. It has a very specific connection to San Antonio in that the The Bracken Cave is just outside of our city and happens to be the largest bat colony in the world. What’s even more interesting is that it is filled with more than 20 million Mexican Freetail bats from March to October. It is a key maternity site for this species, and females congregate there each year to give birth and rear their young. Even Doppler radar images pick up the huge bursts of what looks like storms emerging from central locations in the area. They leave their caves or bridges at night to help keep the insect population under control…plus, it’s just stinkin’ cool.
One of my favorite partners in collaboration crime (@battyforbooks) is just as fascinated with bats as I am. We co-created this exploratory Thingling image that curates everything you need to know about bats and the vital role they place in keeping the balance within our local habitat.
Students can explore the interactive content located at the top of the image provided by batweek.org. Once they learn about the role bats play by eating tons of insects, pollinating flowers, and spreading seeds that grow new plants and trees, students then learn about the decline in their population and why.
As students navigate to different parts of the image, they will learn more about Bracken Cave, engage in a 360 video experience of bats emerging at dusk, and learn addition facts through multimedia content. The last part of this activity gives students a choice on how they can share what they learned through this exploration. You can access this lesson here, or you can find it located on the October Featured Lessons page on Rock the Lab.