This past September, kids from the Lasky Recreation Center in Detroit and Farms Intermediate School in Brighton, Mich., got together with General Motors and Rob Mies, Director of the Organization for Bat Conservation at the Cranbrook Institute of Science, to turn used Chevrolet Volt battery covers into houses for bats and wood ducks.
According to John Bradburn, manager of waste-reduction efforts for GM, repurposing materials like these battery covers is really a “higher form of recycling” because it doesn’t use energy-dependent technologies like grinding and shredding that recycling requires.
Along with a number of GM engineer volunteers, the kids hammered, nailed and screwed components together that fit into the covers to complete the two designs. Bradburn cut and tailored used wood pallets from a GM plant so the material could be repurposed for the bat boxes’ interior chambers.
“Linking with Rob on this project really gives these kids the opportunity to work with tools and engineering and design tactics in a hands-on environment that lends itself well to creativity and learning,” said Bradburn. “They also get exposed to electric vehicle components that can be repurposed in a variety of ways and avoid landfills after their initial use—a big concern for these advanced technology components.”
Besides some quality hammer time, the kids also experienced a live big brown bat show and tell from Mies that included neat demonstrations on bat’s echolocation (sonar) abilities, how they feed and their wing size and construction.
“The kids at Lasky and Hartland Intermediate were great; they were remarkably excited to build, see the bat and interact with the adults,” said Mies. “These battery covers are also great for bat houses because they are the ideal shape, provide great protection from predators, keep the bats warm and will last longer than wood.”
After painting and final construction tweaks, the houses will be placed throughout the southeastern Michigan area, including some at GM plants as well as Lasky and Farms Intermediate.