Connecting mathematical thinking to the natural world can be as simple as looking up to the sky. Volunteer bird watchers around the world help scientists gather data about bird populations. Counting all the birds in a large flock is impossible, so reasonable estimates are made using techniques such as those described in this problem scenario. Scientists draw on these estimates to describe trends in the populations of certain species and to identify areas for further research.
Carolyn M. Jones, firstname.lastname@example.org, teaches primary grades at McLeod Elementary School in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She loves inspiring mathematical discussions and using technologies with her students in the classroom and in her school's “Fun Math” club. Edited by Julie S. Long, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.