With summer in full swing why not take on a citizen science project? The National Science Teacher’s Association has published a book with 15 lessons on citizen science projects that teacher and students alike can engage in over the summer.
Citizen science enables public collaboration in the process of gathering data. The data collected allows for the investigation of biological and environmental trends the world over. The regions and timelines covered would never be covered individually. Teachers use citizen science in an effort to motivate and inspire their students by partnering with professionals in the field. Students are empowered to connect with the environment and the natural world as they make observations and collect data.
The sample lesson that is free for download has the citizen scientist working on “The Mysteries of the Monarchs”. As with many citizen science projects, this lesson allows for many different entrance points so that it can be adjusted to where you are and the time of year you would like to begin.
For example, during the school year, students can raise the Monarchs. Then, the students can tag them and release them. The tags allow citizen scientists to read and collect data later. This information is used in collaboration with The Monarch Watch team at the University of Kansas who have monitored the Monarchs migration for 20 years. http://www.nsta.org/store/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/9781936959082&utm_source=enewsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BookBeatJuly2014
If you aren’t interested in Monarch butterflies or maybe feel that they are over done. You can always help out the Vanishing Firefly Project. The question is… “Are they disappearing? And if so, why?” If you visit them at http://www.clemson.edu/public/rec/baruch/firefly_project/ you can find clear instructions and wonderful video clips that explain the process.
No blog about citizen science would be complete without a nod towards NASA. Students love the S’COOL Cloud Observer program which has them observing clouds in their area at specific times of the day. This data is taken and compared to data that is compiled through the NASA satellites. Just visit http://science.nasa.gov/citizen-scientists/ for more information on the program. Of course this link has many more opportunities for you and your students to explore.