Alessondra & The Great Horned Owl
She just might be the cutest little girl in the world. As she ran across the den to her play area, she quickly grabbed a long banner, anxious to display last night’s art project. “Guess, what?” she asked. The excitement in her voice made you just as eager to find out the information she was hiding. “My birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day and it’s going to be an owl theme,” exclaimed Alessondra. She proudly displayed the banner that read ‘I love owls.’ Before you were able to respond, she quickly pointed out her favorite part of the drawing. “I actually worked hardest on the ‘L’ to make it look 3D,” she said. “I’m probably going to ask mom if we can play pin the feather on the great horned owl!” It only made sense for eight-year-old Alessondra to pick the owl as the theme for her party. It’s played a major part in her life for the last year. As she continued to talk about her party and her interest in owls, it was obvious that her knowledge of the mysterious creatures extended well beyond the information found in typical textbooks.
Alessondra’s interest began in February 2012 when a window box outside of her home became the nesting place for a mother owl and her two eggs. Instead of scaring the owl away, Alessondra’s parents, Jeff and Deziray Click, decided to incorporate their daughter’s interest into her homeschool plan. “You can theme her learning based on what she’s into,” said Deziray. After seeing the owl’s vivid stripes, Alessondra chose to name her Mrs. Tiger. “When I did some research, I found out they were called flying tigers and I didn’t even know that when I named her,” explained Alessondra. The Click family decided to place the daily routine of Mrs. Tiger and her owlets on a popular Internet streaming site. Four eggs and millions of hits later, Mrs. Tiger has become an online sensation as people across the world watch her daily activities right from the Click family window. “We’ve had dozens of teachers contact us. They use it in their classrooms all across the county,” said Deziray. Jeff also noticed various benefits from the way that Alessondra is learning outside the box. “This experience was something so unique. We found a way that we could incorporate this into numerous aspects of her education aside from biology. She’s [also] learning about technology [and] how it can be used in unique ways to study animals.”
The family’s unique approach to education was not always their first option. Jeff and Deziray had planned on sending their daughter to public school until they had conversations with various parents who were opting to homeschool their children. “It was all God—He placed people in our lives. We had always thought we would do public,” commented Deziray. “When I initially decided to homeschool, I wanted her to love to learn.” Not only has Alessondra developed a strong love of learning, but her interests have also influenced other students and adults as well. After discovering Mrs. Tiger and her eggs, Alessondra refused to miss a moment of the live nature happening outside of the family’s window. Jeff and Deziray initially set up the camera to keep her updated with all the latest on Mrs. Tiger.
After researching video sharing sites online, Jeff came across Ustream and decided to use the site to connect Mrs. Tiger with viewers. The family didn’t think that their discovery would attract such a massive online following. “We’ll probably hit 1.7 million today,” said Jeff. The family has also received a number of heart-warming letters and posts from viewers. Comments from other parents have also showed Deziray the influence that the video stream has had on other students. “We’re seeing children choose nature over video games. How many times do you get to see an owl in the wild?”
There’s no time for video games in Alessondra’s life. She’s too busy sharing her vast knowledge of owls at her various public speaking engagements. “She’s speaking to classes around the city,” said proud father Jeff. While there is so much to take from the experience, Jeff and Deziray hope that Alessondra continues to learn from the daily lessons offered by Mrs. Tiger. “Any life experience that you have is something that you can and should learn from.”
To watch the live video stream, go to www.ustream.tv/okcowlcam.
We are visited reguarly by Barred owls and they ask us who is cooking tonight.
I watched all last year and don't want to miss this year.