Citizen Science in the Classroom Series: Project Noah

By January 23rd, 2014 at 9:54 pm | Comment

Using Project Noah to Meet Common Core and Next Generation Teaching Standards

Project Noah title page

Grades: K-12th

Description: Project Noah is a digital platform that is designed to allow students, teachers, citizens and biologists to create a database that documents the biodiversity of plants, animals, insects, and much more across the planet. The data uploaded includes photos, geographic location, date, time, and other relevant information about the observations. Participants can join pre-formed missions to find animals, plants, butterflies, reptiles, or invasive species. Teachers may also set up specific classroom missions for students. This type of crowd sourcing information provides researchers with valuable information about species presence and absences as well as abundance. Participants may upload their spottings online or using a mobile app (iPhone or Android). There are virtual rewards or “patches” for certain achievements, such as the number of photos posted of birds, mammals, invertebrates or plants. The data that is uploaded is available to teachers for downloading and using in class for mathematical analysis. For public missions the photos that are uploaded as “unknown” are open for others to suggest identification assistance, which is often quite helpful.

Project Noah Patchs

Patches that students may earn during the Project Noah challenges

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Computer with internet access.
  • Digital camera(s)
  • Pencil or Pen
  • Notebook to record siting information
  • Cell phone and Project Noah app optional
  • Program that can upload CSV spreadsheet, optional (MS Excel works for this)
  • Depending on “mission” or class project nets, insect collectors, boots, etc. may be required

Why This Citizen Science Project is a Strong Candidate for the Classroom:

  • This project is simple enough for even kindergarten classes to participate.
  • Regardless of where you are in the world, and whether you’re an urban or rural school you can participate year round.
  • Tools required are minimal and can you can integrate smart phone technology into the classroom.
  • Students may participate inside or outside the classroom.
  • Teachers may join the global mission set up by Project Noah or create their own missions for their students.
  • When creating a class specific mission teachers may create anonymous student numbers/accounts for student safety. Only those in in the class with a specific log-in and URL may participate in or access the mission.
  • Project Noah is very visual and an easy way to connect with other students and observers globally.
  • Data is available to upload from each mission for supplementing math activities in the classroom.

Teaching Materials:

A limited number of videos about Project Noah, and sample lesson plans, are available on their website.

Online Safety for Children

The Project Noah website can be accessed by the instructor creating their own account and joining pre-formed missions or by creating a class-specific mission. The classroom mission gives teachers the option to create anonymous individual student accounts with specific numbers (you may have as many students as you wish). The URL for the specific class challenge you create is private and only students with their own log-in may access the site. Project Noah will offer to create unique passwords for students or one password that you set for the entire class. Students may also join external public missions but they will still remain anonymous with a student number. They may choose to upload a profile picture (of themselves or an animal) but no other information is required or asked for.

Project Noah Spottings

Examples of Project Noah Spottings

Common Core and Next Gen. Standards Met:

Kindergarten:

Next. Gen. Science: K-LS-1 Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals need to survive.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record photos of the things that animals and plants need to survive. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the teacher may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah.

Common Core:

Literacy:  W.K.2, W.K.7, SL.K.5

Teachers may have students write, draw, and dictate information explaining the specific Project Noah mission they are researching.For the next generation standards this may be an explanation of the photos and sightings they are recording relating to what animals and plants need to survive. Photos may be a visual display to supplement these requirements.

Math: MP.4, K.CC, K.MD.A.2

Teachers may download data from the project and have students reason quantitatively, using counting, to compare the different types of resources found.

First Grade:

Next. Gen. Science: 1-LS3-1 Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like, their parents. Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record photos of organisms in different life stages. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the teacher may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah.

Common Core:

Literacy:  W.1.7, W.1.8

Students will participate in the shared research of the Project Noah challenge set forth by the teacher. They may research the project and write about it or write a step by step account (with the help of adults) relating to their experience collecting data.

Math: MP.2

Teachers may download data from the specific Project Noah challenge they have set forward for the class. Teachers may create graphs, or ask students to do basic tallying and counting, and ask students to quantatively describe patterns in the numbers of adults, juveniles, larvae, and eggs observed.  

Second Grade:

Next. Gen. Science:  2-LS2-2 Develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record photos of plant seeds and organisms dispersing seeds. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the teacher may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah. Data may be downloaded and analyzed by the class.

2-LS4-1 Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record of flora and fauna from different local habitats or their schoolyard. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the teacher may add them to the Schoolyard Bioblitz mission. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the teacher may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah. Data may be downloaded and analyzed by the class.

Common Core:

Literacy:  W.2.7, W.2.8, SL.2.5

Students will participate in the shared Project Noah research challenge posed by the teacher relating to either animals dispersing seeds and pollinating plants or the numbers of animals in different habitats. They will form a hypothesis and use data collected to answer the question to the best of their ability. Students will also use photos to supplement visual displays to clarify ideas and experiences.

Math: MP.2, MP.4, 2.MD.D.10

Teachers will download data from the project and ask students to create a picture graph and/or a bar graph to represent data with up to four categories relating to either the pollinator project (see above) or the animal biodiversity project (see above). For example, students may categorize the number of mammals, birds, reptiles/amphibians, and invertebrates recorded in specific habitats. They would then use this information to create graphs.

Third Grade:

Next. Gen. Science:  3-LS3-2 Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record different animals in a variety of environments as a way to discuss their traits and adaptations for those environments. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the teacher (or students) may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah. Data may be downloaded and analyzed by the class.

Common Core:

Literacy: W.3.1, W.3.2, W.3.9, SL.3.4

Students will participate in the Project Noah research mission that the teacher creates for them relating to different physiological traits found in different habitats or environments. They may research the different traits observed and write an explanatory text to explain the patterns that appeared in the observations. Students may also write an opinion piece on these observations and/or explanatory text about the research methods used to explore this topic.

Math: MP.2, MP.4, 3.MD.B.3

Teachers may help students download data from the Project Noah database, and their project, and then analyze patterns in the data. Students may then create several categories relating to the different traits found in different habitats or environments. They may create a line graph or bar graph of their data.

MIDDLE SCOOL

Next. Gen. Science:  MS-LS2-2 Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record different animals in a variety of trophic levels across different ecosystems. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the students may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah. Data may be downloaded and analyzed by the class.

Common Core:

Literacy: WHST.6-8.1

Students will conduct a short experiment to answer a question. In this case students may ask about the number of organisms in different trophic levels found in their local ecosystems. They may also use several outside sources to develop questions that will allow for multiple questions or avenues of exploration.

Next. Gen. Science:  MS-LS2-5

Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services. Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record biodiversity in a specific ecosystem, or their school yard. Schoolyard sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the teacher may add them to the Schoolyard Bioblitz mission.

Common Core:

Literacy: WHST.6.8-2, WHS.6-8.9, SL8.1, SL.8.4

Students may use the Project Noah challenge, relating to cataloging biodiversity at their chosen research site, as the basis of a research project concerning maintaining biodiversity in a specific ecosystem. They may use literary and biological texts to support their reasoning, as well as collaborative discussion with student groups. They may then present their claims and ideas using research, evidence, and reasoning.

Math: MP.4, 6.RP.A.3

Students may upload data from the Project Noah challenge and then use ratios and reasoning to solve questions about biodiversity in specific ecosystems. They should then use these data sets to support their arguments for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Next. Gen. Science:  MS-LS1-4 Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record different categories of adaptations, such as vocalizations, structure building, mimicry, food rewards, etc. Data may be downloaded and statistically analyzed.

Common Core:

Literacy: WHST.6.8-2, WST.6-8.8, WHST.6.8.9, SL.8.5

Students will participate in the Project Noah challenge to find animal behaviors, relating to probability of reproductive success. They will create a hypothesis, and then write explanatory text and an argument relating to the numbers of animals observed correlated to the specific behavior types. They may use outside sources to support their research and use multimedia to present their findings (supported by pictures from the project and graphs).

Math: MP.4, 6.SP.A.2, 6.SP.B.4, 6.SP.B.5

Students will download numerical information from the Project Noah database/challenge for their class. They will use mathematics and reasoning to describe the pattern of distribution of their results. This analysis will be conducted using charts and graphs of their data.

HIGH SCHOOL (common core not included)

Next. Gen. Science:  HS-LS2-6 Evaluate claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record biodiversity in a specific ecosystem, or their school yard. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the students may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah. Data may be downloaded and analyzed by the class to look for trends in population numbers.

Next. Gen. Science:  HS-LS4-3 Apply concepts of statistics and probability to support explanations that organisms with an advantageous heritable trait tend to increase in proportion to organisms lacking that trait.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record the abundance of different traits. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the students may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah. Data may be downloaded and analyzed by the class to look for trends in the abundance of organism with specific traits.

Next. Gen. Science:  HS-lS4-5 Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to record the numbers of individuals of specific species in areas with different environmental conditions (for example aquatic insects). These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the students may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah. Data may be downloaded and analyzed by the class to determine if there are trends in population numbers of species and how this correlates to environmental conditions.


When not writing her blog The Infinite Spider, Karen McDonald is a guest blogger, curriculum developer, science content editor, and outdoor educator with over thirteen years in informal science education. She has an MS in Biology and a BS in Environmental Science and Philosophy. Currently she works for Smithsonian and contracts for Discovery Channel.