Archive for the ‘Ecology & Environment’ Category
Editor’s Note: This post has been republished and shared in celebration of SciStarter’s Back To School campaign where you will find 10 citizen science projects aligned with Next Generation Science Standards.
Using Journey North’s Monarch Project to Meet Common Core and Next Generation Teaching Standards
Citizen Science and Monarch Migration as a Teaching Tool
Journey North (JN) is a citizen science project for the observation and tracking of seasonal weather changes and phenology or life cycle changes in animals and plants. This website is an amazing resource and interactive platform for teachers. There’s so much information that they provide that it’s almost jaw dropping. On their site you’ll find how your class can participate in tracking everything from seasonal changes in daylight to migrations of humming birds, whales, and even flower blooming. One of the most popular citizen science projects on their site is the monarch butterfly project. In this project students and teachers can learn about the life cycles of monarchs, their natural history, and migration. Students may look for monarchs in their local area and report observations of eggs, larvae, pupa, and adults. This project encompasses much more than just observations. The content provided on their site includes geography, historical and real-time data, ecological conservation, life cycles, reading comprehension and more.
Materials You’ll Need:
- A computer with internet access.
- A printer that can print in color (preferably).
- Optional: milkweed plants and flowers that may be conducive for monarch food, water, or shelter.
Why This Citizen Science Project is a Strong Candidate for the Classroom:
- This project can be done either in or out of the classroom and in or out of urban areas.
- It requires very little equipment or tools.
- Usable data, graphs, maps, reading materials, and lesson plans, and identification tools are provided on the site.
- You can meet almost every standard of Common Core and Next. Gen standards with this project and all the resources provided on the site.
- Teachers can use the lessons provided even if they don’t participate in the project.
- Students learn geography and science together.
- Students obtain a “sense of place” by making local observations and contributing to a global observation effort that can be seen in “real-time” on the site’s maps.
- Zero data can be useful, which teaches children about the importance of collecting all types of data.
- Uploading data is safe and children remain anonymous, it’s put in as a class.
- They have a free app that you can use in the field with a smart phone so you’re not tied to the classroom for uploading data. Students can put in their observations in real time.
Supplied on Journey North’s Website you’ll find a while host of videos, reading materials, maps, slide shows, downloadable data, and more. There is also a teacher’s guide that can help you find introductory lessons and more information for your lessons. They also offer the ability to be monarch “ambassadors” and exchange cards with schools in South America through their “symbolic migration” butterfly card program.
Online Safety for Children
Teachers create one account for uploading data for their entire class so no specific student data is needed. They do ask that you put in your address and provide an e-mail. They also ask you what grade you teach and approximately how many students are in that grade. After one initial registration you don’t need to do anything more except log in and begin recording observations. A log-in is not required to access all the free lesson support materials on the site.
Looking for ways to fund citizen science research? Check out the Citizen Science Funding Resource Guide!
Jessica Clemente, an environmental science graduate thought she would be doing work outside of her community once she got her degree. But she is an asthmatic, and when she found out there was an asthma study taking place in the area of her home in South Bronx she became involved and eventually took the lead. “Living day-to-day in an area where all I saw was high traffic volumes, poor air quality and adding more waste to our community got me enraged,” she says in an EPA video interview. Her anger prompted action, and she looked at the tools to empower herself and her community—education and advocacy.
In many cases, there is a connection between socioeconomic status and air quality. Some call it environmental justice—why should a factory spew tons of filth into the same air that a poor, young family across the road breathes? Amanda Kaufman, the Environmental Health Fellow in the Air Climate and Energy Program Office at the EPA says, “We are currently working with a community in Newark, New Jersey that has faced environmental justice issues in the past and still faces many to this day. We hope to collaborate with the community action group to establish a community-led air monitoring project.”
A new citizen science project invites volunteers to help study insect diversity in the Grand Canyon.
Every night when she’s on the water, Gibney Siemion, a river expedition guide in the Grand Canyon, crouches at the edge of the Colorado River right on the line where the sand turns from wet to dry. Her equipment is rudimentary: a jar of grain alcohol poured into a plastic Tupperware with a glowing bar of black light perched on its edge. But this is an effective insect trap. Siemion, and citizen scientists like her, are using these traps in a 240 mile experiment to understand how energy demand and dams on the Colorado River are washing away key insect species.
Turn your beach visit into marine ecology research on worldwide jellyfish populations.
Looking for more summertime citizen science projects? Find them here.
Between 2012 and 2013, power plants in Israel, Sweden, Scotland, Japan, and the U.S. were shut down unexpectedly, all for the same reason: jellyfish. Blooms of jellyfish abundantly swarmed in coastal waters and clogged water intake pipes, forcing plants to halt operations and clear the unwitting slaughter. More recently, headlines have heralded an upswing of jellyfish appearances, such as CNN’s “Jellyfish taking over oceans, experts warn,” and Nature News’ “Attack of the blobs.” Just last week, BBC News reported record numbers of jellyfish spotted on the Welsh coastline this summer. At first glance, these sightings appear to reflect a global increase in jellyfish populations, but scientific studies say that current data is too limited to make conclusions on the ecological effects of these gelatinous zooplankton.
Identify beached birds and help monitor the health of the coastal ecosystem.
Looking for more summertime citizen science projects? Find them here.
Do you enjoy long walks on the beach while taking in the surrounding wildlife? Are you concerned about environmental issues and passionate about community projects? Are you ready for commitment?
If so, then you might just be perfect match for COASST. (Did you think this was something else?)