BPS Bat Project

Become a conservationist

How and why should we ensure viable bat populations in our community?

In 2008, the Bentonville Public School district eradicated a population of bats from Old High Middle School. School officials were shocked to learn the bats numbered in the tens of thousands and appeared to have been living in the school for more than half a century. Many different species of bats co-habitated in the attic, even a few species non-native to Arkansas. How was the bat problem at OHMS solved and where did these bats go? What impact, if any, did these bats have on our town, our state, our planet? In this Project Based Learning (PBL) unit, students seek the answers to those questions and many more. This PBL is an authentic opportunity for students to examine their “place in our space” and what responsibilities accompany that role. The project will be generated by the students, with the role of the teacher to create a guided learning environment where knowledge comes from everyone and is shared by everyone. The ultimate goal is of the PBL is twofold. First, students will seek ways to inform the public of the value of bats, and second, students will design and construct man-made bat houses in an attempt to ensure survival of viable bat populations in Northwest Arkansas.

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The Plan

Students will embark on a mission to learn the role of bats in our ecosystem, explore their rich diversity, discuss why they are vilified, and persuade, if necessary, the public to the welcome bat boxes into the community. The next step will be to design and construct bat houses, experimenting with 3D printed pieces for the bat boxes.

By putting up a bat house, you:

  • Cut down on the bugs in your backyard
  • Give bats a safe home to raise their young
  • Help keep bats out of our houses, which means people and bats can rest easy

Student Driven

This PBL is cross-curricular, involving the skills of math, technology, engineering, science reasoning, persuasive communications, research, art, graphic design and civic service. The students will work with peers, teachers, and the community to complete the task of building bat boxes and convincing the public of their value. How these tasks are accomplished are left up to student creativity and determination.

Year 1 Partnerships

The Amazeum

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

The Boy Scouts of America

*Ozark Stem

*Illinois River Watershed

* to be determined

Year 2 Partnerships

Bentonville Parks and Rec

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Dancing Bats

Start a conversation.

Where can this lead? Bee preservation? Birds and wind power? Human impact on earth? Historically, have there been other devastating diseases similar to the WNF that ravaged bat populations? Social Media and change?


Projected Budget for 2 bats houses and installation - approximately $1000

Projected Budget for placards - at this time awaiting estimate from AMP Sign and Banner for the cost of 2 placards and installation


  • building materials: wood (plywood-3/8x4x8, 15/32x4x8, pine-1x6x8; 4x6x20 poles), screws, caulk, paint and primer, cement

  • expertise: woodworking, construction of bat houses, construction of educational placards, installation of bat houses and placards

  • machinery: woodworking tools (table saws, routers, jigsaws, drills, etc.), tools to dig holes and make concrete

  • educational placards to place near bat house locations


Predicted structure sizes?

We hope to build two nursery boxes for each of the schools. The houses will be approximately 31”x17”x5”. The houses have to be at least 10 feet off the ground. We plan to mount the houses back to back on a 4x6x16 post set three feet into the ground. Similar to boxes here


How and where would the bat boxes be installed?

The houses will be built on a free standing 4x6 pole and they will be placed away from the building in low traffic areas.

What type of bats will be targeted?

The houses are not species specific so any type of species in the area can move in. Bat houses are successful 80% of the time when they are installed in groups.

What is the success for attracting bats to man-made houses in the state or region?

Bat houses are successful 80% of the time when they are installed in groups. More data can be found at the link below. It is a study that was done by Bat Conservation International to gauge the effectiveness of bat houses.


What types of diseases these bats may carry and what types of dangers do they pose to students?

We will be installing the houses on areas of the school property that have low traffic. In addition we will be educating the students about bat safety through the coursework the do about bats. There will also be warning about bat safety placed on the placards that will be placed near the bat houses. The only real threat would be if a bat falls out of the house and the kids are being taught to not touch bats as part of the safety instruction. http://batmanagement.com/Ordering/batboxes/Resources/BatHouseManual2010.pdf

What will the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission allow since some of these may fall into a protected species category?

Arkansas Fish and Game encourages the installation of bat houses. They even provide bat house plans on their websites and tips about the construction and placement of the houses. Bat houses provide a safe roosting location for the bats.


Who will be responsible for maintaining these areas and cleaning the bat guano below the houses on a weekly/monthly basis.? What type of spores or fungus can grow inside the guano?

The guano from the bat houses will be broken down by rain or blown away by wind or can be harvest to use for fertilizer of school garden. The guano does not pose a health risk due to the number of bats that live in the houses and the exposure of the guano to natural elements. The guano is no more dangerous than droppings from birds or cats.

Histoplasmosis can be associated with bat guano but it generally not a problem unless you have a large accumulation of guano inside of a building. The elements should take care of the guano though so we shouldn’t have that problem with our bat houses.

How will these structures be cared for if either of the teachers transfer from their existing site, like we have had in the past with garden programs or outdoor classrooms?

The hopes are that this will be an ongoing project that will provide bat houses for various locations within the BPS boundaries for years to come. There are numerous teachers involved with the project, not just Amy and myself. In addition, the administrators of each school are involved with the project so there should always be someone that can maintain the houses.

Who will cover the cost of having the bats removed from the school sites, if bats are drawn into the school buildings because it is a more suitable location for nesting. We paid over $ 100,000 dollars to remove the bats from OHMS and pay an annual warranty fee of $ 4,000.00 to keep them out of OHMS and RE Baker.

Through our research we found that if you don’t already have bats in a building, they will not be drawn in by the bat houses. In addition, both of the buildings seem to be bat proofed at this point. During the fall we walked around Old High and Baker and found bats living under the eaves of the building but they obviously have not returned to the attic of the building. Hypothetically, these houses would help to get them away from the places where children walk and play.

As far as costs are concerned, we would procure an agreement from a group, like possibly the boy scouts or a sponsorship by a group to be vigilant with the bat boxes. Evidence supports the claim that bat boxes will not draw bats into houses, instead bats will prefer a well built, well placed box. If bats are drawn back into OHMS, the bat removal company should most likely be responsible for guaranteeing their contracted work. Installing bat boxes is listed as an important step in the process of getting rid of unwanted bats in a building. It should be done several weeks prior to the eradication process.