Minnetonka Middle School Students Work to Prevent Birds Crashing Into Glass

April 12, 2017 08:02 PM

Birds crashing into the glass at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis has been a concern since before the new facility even opened.

Now several groups are working on a solution, including three Minnetonka Middle School students. 


The trio has already hit upon an idea they think will be effective.

When Sam Dodd, Elena Dodd and Alex Schwaller saw what was happening at U.S. Bank Stadium and other large glass buildings, they developed a UV film that's applied to glass.

RELATED: New U of M Museum Will Have Bird-Friendly Windows

It was part of their LEGO League project. This year's competition required them to become animal allies. 

"We were brainstorming ideas and a bird flew into the window and we thought nothing of it," Sam Dodd said. "But then another bird flew into the window, so we looked it up online and it's the No. 1 killer of birds."

The three have presented their idea to 3M, because the company could actually manufacture the UV film. They've also taken it to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority.

The MSFA and the Minnesota Vikings have commissioned a scientific study with Audubon Minnesota, the University of Minnesota and Oklahoma State University. The aim is to research how glass can be made safe for birds. The study will be finished in 2019.

RELATED: Vikings, Stadium Authority to Pay for Bird Study

The UV film won't change the way people see the windows, only birds. Elena Dodd thinks it is perfect for U.S. Bank Stadium. 

"One of the things that is special about our film is that it uses advertisements or slogans to pay for itself," she said. "So you make patterns into the UV film with UV paint, and when a UV flashlight is shined on it, it will say something like for the Vikings, U.S. Bank, or (a) touchdown."

The kids did all of the research themselves, with help from their coach. They've already racked up a few regional awards, and are currently competing for a state award.

These same types of concerns have been brought up in regard to downtown skyways. And the University of Minnesota's new Bell Museum in St. Paul is installing bird-safe patterned glass .

A 2014 Smithsonian study found as many as a billion birds die in the U.S. every year as a result of building collisions.


Kevin Doran

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