Science & Nature

Feather Biology: The Science of Avian Flight, Wings, and Other Feathery Things

Feathers are unique to birds and essential for flight and so much more. In this 8-week class students learn about bird flight, wings, and feathers through hands-on activities, crafts, and science experiments. (Biology, Animals, Zoology)
Heather Gerth, M.S.
66 total reviews for this teacher
5 reviews for this class
Completed by 10 learners
  There are no upcoming classes.

50 minutes

per class

Once per week

over 8 weeks


year olds


learners per class

per learner - per class

How does aMulti-Daycourse work?

Meets multiple times at scheduled times
Live video chats, recorded and monitored for safety and quality
Discussions via classroom forum and private messages with the teacher
Great for engaging projects and interacting with diverse classmates from other states and countries

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Class Experience

This class is taught in English.
- Learners will be able to explain how feathers are unique to birds and their dinosaur ancestors and will be able to describe several types of feathers and their structure.  
- Learners will be able to explain how feathers and wings allow birds to fly and will be able to describe a few different wing shapes and the lifestyle and flight patterns each is adapted for.  
- Learners will be able to describe how feathers can also help a bird hide, stand out, stay warm, and stay dry.  
- Learners will develop connections with other like-minded students who enjoy the outdoors and birds.
Heather is a published ecologist who has conducted field ecology research for more than a decade.  She has done research in Costa Rica, Teton Mountain National Park, the Southern Appalachian Mountains, and in the Midwest. Her main research interests are birds and landscape ecology. Heather is also an environmental educator and naturalist with over 20 years of experience teaching students of all ages through nature centers, schools, and Girl Scouts.
Optional learning extension activities are provided each week.  Students may complete these activities outside of class, and, if they wish, they may share what they discovered at the beginning of the next class.   
- Printed “What Are Feathers For?” Booklet (file provided 1 week prior to class)
- Printed class activity worksheets (when needed this file is posted 1 week prior to class)
- Standard craft supplies: crayons, colored pencils, or markers; scissors; construction paper or scrap paper; glue; tape; stapler (please have available each week)
- Extra Supplies:
Week 1: pen or pencil
Week 2: straw, craft feather, Playdough or modeling clay
Week 6: paper plate, wiggle eyes, pipe cleaners, craft feathers
Week 8: down feather coat/jacket/sleeping bag or plastic bag of craft feathers, 2 bags of ice or ice blocks

Note about real bird feathers: The US Migratory Bird Treaty Act prohibits the possession of feathers, nests, and eggs of protected migratory bird species.  Since possession of protected migratory bird feathers is prohibited in the US, learners are encouraged to use fake, craft feathers for craft projects and to take a photo of any feathers found in nature to share during class rather than collecting the feather.  
Learners will not need to use any apps or websites beyond the standard Outschool tools.
50 minutes per week in class, and no time outside of class.
Younger students (especially ages 5 and 6) will likely require parental support while taking this course since several activities require cutting, folding, and carefully following directions.  Please note that the longer 50 minutes sessions of this course may not be appropriate for every young learner.  If you are looking for a higher energy course with smaller class size, shorter sessions, more songs, movement, and games, please consider the Raptors: Birds of Prey Hunting By Day and Night multi-day camp that I offer for ages 3-6. 


Heather Gerth, M.S.
Lives in the United States
Published Ecologist, Ornithologist, and Environmental Educator with Over 20 Years of Teaching Experience
66 total reviews
43 completed classes

About Me

***I will be on maternity leave from May-July 2022.  Responses to messages may be delayed during this time, but I still look forward to hearing from you!

I am passionate about ecology, birds, and getting students outside observing and studying... 
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