SciStarter Blog http://scistarter.com/blog Covering the people, projects, and phenomena of citizen science Mon, 14 Apr 2014 17:04:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 3, 2, 1…Project MERCCURI Blasts Off to the ISS Today!!http://scistarter.com/blog/2014/04/project-merccuri-blasts-off-iss/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2014/04/project-merccuri-blasts-off-iss/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 15:40:47 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=9455 What happens when you combine professional cheerleaders, microbiologists, and astronauts? The answer is Project MERCCURI and the Microbial Playoffs… in SPAAACE! SPACE FLORIDA, FL — Today, something  amazing is headed toward the ISS—microbial life from earth!This moment is the culmination of a citizen science experiment called Project MERCCURI (Microbial Ecology Research Combining Citizen and University […]

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What happens when you combine professional cheerleaders, microbiologists, and astronauts? The answer is Project MERCCURI and the Microbial Playoffs… in SPAAACE!

SPACE FLORIDA, FL — Today, something  amazing is headed toward the ISS—microbial life from earth!This moment is the culmination of a citizen science experiment called Project MERCCURI (Microbial Ecology Research Combining Citizen and University Researchers on the ISS), a collaboration between NASA, UC Davis, SciStarter, and Science Cheerleaders.

Watch the launch LIVE today at 4:58pm ET / 1:58 PT on NASA TV!!

There were two main goals for the project. The first involves a huge competition that will take place on the ISS between 47 different microbes that have been collected by thousands of public participants from the surfaces of various public spaces (mostly sporting venues). The microbial competitors will face off against each other to see who will grow the fastest, and the race will be monitored by astronauts on the ISS, using standard laboratory equipment. Researchers at UC Davis will host an identical race using the same kind of equipment on Earth.

The second  goal involves sending 4,000 cell samples to Argonne National Lab to be sequenced by Jack Gilbert. The lab will identify which microbes are present on the surfaces of cell phones and shoes and compare them to other cell phone and shoe samples from around the country. While astronauts do not carry cell phones or wear shoes, they will be swabbing similar surfaces onboard the ISS, like foot holds that they strap their feet into while they are operating the external robotic arms and their wall-mounted communication devices.

You can get to know all of the microbial competitors, who they are, where they’re from, and why they are so cool on the official website. If you want, you can even print your own Microbial Trading Cards. Cell phone and shoe collections will continue through April!

The microbes are sailing into space today aboard Space X’s Dragon spacecraft. SciStarter’s founder, Darlene Cavalier, is on site today at the launch. She notes, “We’re here, in part, as representatives of the thousands of citizen scientists who participated in this important research project to study microbes on Earth and in space!”

 

Thank you to all who made this project possible. It’s pure proof that the sky is the limit for what we can do in science, together.

For more, follow #SpaceMicrobes on Twitter.

Image: Darlene Cavalier

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WildObs: Instagram for Nature Lovershttp://scistarter.com/blog/2014/04/wildobs-instagram-nature-lovers/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2014/04/wildobs-instagram-nature-lovers/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 19:36:46 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=9448 Collect and share pictures of memorable encounters with nature using the WildObs app. Want more citizen science? Don’t worry. There’s an app for that. There are nature lovers, wildlife photographers, hikers, kayakers and birdwatchers who pursue their passion every day, and most of them do so in the hope of spotting an osprey, or catching […]

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Collect and share pictures of memorable encounters with nature using the WildObs app.

Want more citizen science? Don’t worry. There’s an app for that.

Gopher Snake

There are nature lovers, wildlife photographers, hikers, kayakers and birdwatchers who pursue their passion every day, and most of them do so in the hope of spotting an osprey, or catching a glimpse of a mountain lion or bear. As rewarding as these sightings are, there is an equally fulfilling joy to be found in identifying a clump of apple snail eggs, butterfly or a nighthawk chick. This is what WildObs (official site), a crowdsourced program that partners with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) does—it serves as a portal geared for enthusiasts rather than naturalists or scientists—users who want to gather, share and comment on their day to day sightings.

Adam Jack the creator of the program launched it in 2008. “As a nature lover with a glorious number of encounters, and a reasonably technical iPhone user, I wanted to be able to remember wildlife I saw; what, where and when I saw the wildlife, and ideally try to build a community database to identify good places to find critters,” he said. The idea to build WildObs came in part from Goodreads; the system for books you’ve read, books you’d like to read, and book discovery. “Why not be able to record what wildlife you’ve seen, mark species as favorites, and so on. Given that knowledge the system could inform you about what has been seen recently around you, educate you with the wildlife you might not know existed, and bring you local news from other wildlife lovers.” The idea was to connect people, places and wildlife.

You can record your encounters for your own studies, or enjoyment, use the records you produce to develop a personal wildlife calendar for the year, or maintain a life list as you learn about new species. The NWF uses the program as part of their Wildlife Watch initiative, to track the occurrences of natural phenomena. In addition you can share wildlife Stories online and join the NWF Flickr group. All of this is available to both first timers and professionals.

Western Snowy Plover Family

As a wildlife community, WildObs participants help each other find the nature (for a photograph or close encounter) and users learn about the species in their neighborhoods, so the app essentially offers a collaborative wildlife experience—it helps people connect people to wildlife. When asked if the project plans to publish any findings related to the user collection, Jack says, “The database only has tens of thousands of records to date. WildObs has become more a system of ‘interesting encounters’ than every encounter. It doesn’t have bioblitz-type data, but rather more individual sightings—a Moose here, or a Bobcat there.” There are currently a few thousand users.

WildObs Android

There is always at least one exciting thing about a participatory project—something that enthuses users or that sparked the first idea for it. For Adam Jack and WildObs that would be how the app shares encounters amongst the community. “The app send its users custom notifications tailored to their interests, location and species encounter history. The ultimate goal for WildObs is to connect and engage people with the wildlife around them, and to excite them to go explore and enjoy,” says Jack. It actually sounds a bit like Instagram for nature lovers, which seems to be a pretty neat idea. Join the WildObs community via your Android or iPhone and use technology to help you connect with nature.

Images: Ian Vorster

Android App: http://wildobs.com/about/android
iPhone App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wildobs-observer/id309451803?mt=8
WildObs on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/services/apps/72157607039309200/


Ian Vorster has a MS in Environmental Communications and most recently served as director of communications at the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts. Prior to that he worked in the health communications field. Ian has served as a designer, writer, photographer, editor and project leader in the field of science, and now works freelance in a blend of these roles. You can see more of Ian’s work at dragonflyec.com.

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[GUEST POST] UK Flooding – And What You Can Do About Ithttp://scistarter.com/blog/2014/04/guest-post-uk-flooding-can/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2014/04/guest-post-uk-flooding-can/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 20:13:01 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=9410 Thames Valley Sewer System overwhelmed and instrumentation destroyed, how you can contribute to water monitoring with citizen science. Flooding is not just a problem for residents and local businesses; it is also a major issue for the UK’s water companies. Throughout the closing months of 2013 and the start of the current year, England was […]

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Thames Valley Sewer System overwhelmed and instrumentation destroyed, how you can contribute to water monitoring with citizen science.

Flooding is not just a problem for residents and local businesses; it is also a major issue for the UK’s water companies. Throughout the closing months of 2013 and the start of the current year, England was hit with torrential rain and areas of serious flooding; especially in the southern regions. The amount of flood water entering the sewage pipe network caused companies like Thames Water to lose all of their instrumentation and monitoring equipment. Floodwater effectively drowned the devices put in place by the company, meaning they had to replace them all.

This procedure involved turning water supplies off as engineers installed new monitoring equipment, costing millions of pounds to implement. The exact amount of money this cost Thames Water is uncertain and is hard to specify; it all very much depends on the type of monitoring equipment and the scale of repair. Whatever the cost, it is an expense Thames Water could have done without! So why didn’t the instrumentation in place warn Thames Water of the flood risk before it actually happened? What can the company do to avoid this problem in the future? This article aims to answer these questions.

Flood Management – Who is Responsible?

Nationally, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is responsible for flood policies and coastal erosion risk management. This organisation also provides funding for flood risk management authorities via grants from the Environmental Agency and other local authorities. There are other societies and authorities that share responsibility of flood management including:

  • The Environment Agency – Operational responsibility for overseeing the risk of flooding from main reservoirs, rivers, estuaries and the sea. This association is also a coastal erosion rick management authority.
  • Lead Local Flood Authorities – Responsible for creating, maintaining and applying strategies for local flood risk management and also keeping a register of flood risk assets. These authorities analyse the risk of flooding from surface water and groundwater.
  • District Councils – Working alongside Lead Local Flood Authorities and other organisations, these are important partners in planning local flood risk management schemes and carrying out operations on minor watercourses.
  • Highway Authorities – Responsible for supplying and maintaining highway drainage and roadside ditches. These must ensure road projects to not interfere with or increase the risk of flooding.
  • Water and Sewerage Companies – These companies are also responsible for managing flood risks, from both water and foul or combined sewer systems.

All of these mentioned authorities have a duty to co-operate with each other and to share information, under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. This act ensures all flood risk management authorities work together to provide the best possible flood risk management for the benefit of the relevant communities.

What Causes Flooding?

Aside from the obvious, there are quite a few possible causes of flooding. Terrible weather with relentless rainfall is of course the main cause of most floods, but there are other contributory factors too.  Climate change, deforestation, population growth and paving over natural drainage areas are all putting increasing pressure on the UK’s sewerage network. This can be made even worse by individuals putting inappropriate substances and products into the drains, such as wet-wipes and food products.

But what caused such major flooding in the Thames Valley area? How did the company lose all of its instrumentation and why was this area affected so badly by the weather? Well, the majority of areas within England have divided sewers to take rainwater and foul waste separately; but in many areas of London the sewer system is combined. This means foul waste and rainwater is combined in one sewer system. During a heavy storm this can cause the sewer flow to be much greater than usual and can often reach maximum capacity; causing the system to overflow and destroy the monitoring equipment installed.

Citizen Science – Weather@home 2014

As UK water companies identify and implement a definitive sustainable solution to flooding, what can normal citizens do to help in the meantime? Well first and foremost, information on recent flooding events in your area will help experts further understand the processes and how best to avoid the risk. So photographs, measurements and any other kind of recorded information you can obtain will help towards this.

The University of Oxford currently have a team of scientists who are working on a new citizen science project, Weather@home 2014, designed to help better understand the 2013-14 floods within the UK. There are many arguments as to what causes flooding; including inundated drainage systems, inadequate flood defences and increased urbanisation of land. But perhaps the most consistent debate lies with the connection between climate change and extreme weather changes. Weather@home 2014 investigates how much effect climate change had on the UK winter storms and aims to answer this question via the use of climate models.

Running climate models can be extremely time-consuming, but more runs mean more comparisons and ultimately stronger trends.  With this in mind, scientists are asking anybody who is interested in helping out to sign up and help complete up to 30,000 climate model reruns of winter 2013-14. Each rerun will have different assumptions about the influences of climate change on weather patterns. This is an innovative approach as it uses citizens as contributors to scientific analysis, rather than simple data collectors. Results are still pouring in and live outcomes are being posted on the project website almost every single day.

Citizen Science – Doing Flood Risk Science Differently

Flood scientist Stuart Lane and a group of researchers have been participating in another citizen science project; taking a completely different approach. The published paper, Doing flood risk science differently: an experiment in radical scientific method, details the work of an interdisciplinary team of natural and social scientists attempting an experiment in flood management within the Pickering area. The project involves scientific experts and citizens with experience in flooding, without providing them with pre-defined roles.

Each group worked in unison to generate new knowledge about a particular flooding event and to negotiate the different assumptions and commitments of each group. Participants in each group were seen to have relevant knowledge and understandings and efforts were made to expand collective perceptions, which were not set apart between academics and non-academics.

This particular project supported scientific understandings of flood hydrology via the creation of fresh models and the compilation of qualitative insights and experiences of flooding. In addition to this, the project also helped to overcome an impasse in the management of floods in Pickering by reconfiguring the relationship between scientific experts and local residents. Previously, no decision had been made to combat the appropriate use of resources for flood risk management. Both of these opposing citizen science projects help to showcase the wide variety of methods in which non-scientists can involve themselves in important research projects.

[Find more weather-related citizen science projects using SciStarter's Project Finder.]

Thames Water Solution

In order to reduce the risk of sewer flooding in the future, water companies need to reduce the amount of rainwater entering the sewer network. Additional capacity and some new sewer systems would also largely help the situation too. Thames Water has already put some processes in place in many areas, such as installing new sensing devices to record water flow. This equipment has already proved helpful and allows the company to respond quickly to changes in weather and ground conditions. Thames Water also aims to spend up to £350million on a major programme of improvements before the year 2015, which includes:

  • A new storm relief sewer to be installed across the catchment area;
  • Enhancements to be made to the existing network;
  • A sustainable drainage system (SuDS) scheme;
  • Targeted installation of more anti-flood (FLIP) devices.

These plans were submitted to their regulator, Ofwat, with the aim of enhancing the sewerage network in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. All decisions and improvements made must be based on accurate data and balanced against the need for new investment, careful management and community education. Accurate instrumentation and monitoring can help to achieve this data; so I suppose the saying should go: if you look after your monitors, they will look after you!

Image: Wikimedia (Thames flood level markers at Trinity Hospital, Greenwich. The marker on the right is for 1928)


Hayden Hill is an environmental expert and an editorial coordinator for ATi-UK. He believes that before the torrential flooding in 2012, monitoring devices were not being instrumented or managed properly. With the introduction of newer, more efficient systems, Ian believes that UK water companies will have a clearer indication of potential flood risks before they actually materialise. 

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Science Festivals and Hack Days!http://scistarter.com/blog/2014/04/science-festivals-hack-days/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2014/04/science-festivals-hack-days/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 20:38:50 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=9430 April is the month for science festivals. Join the SciStarter team at a festival near you later on this month — bring yourselves, and we’ll bring the citizen science! Cambridge Science Festival Friday, April 18 – Sunday, April 27 Come check out the diverse spectrum of citizen science projects out there! On April 19th during […]

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April is the month for science festivals. Join the SciStarter team at a festival near you later on this month — bring yourselves, and we’ll bring the citizen science!

Cambridge Science Festival

Friday, April 18 – Sunday, April 27

Come check out the diverse spectrum of citizen science projects out there! On April 19th during the Science Carnival event, our friends at EyeWire, Games With Words, GoViral, NOVA Labs, Public Lab, and Project MERCCURI will be joining us and demonstrating how to participate in their projects.

cambridge-science-festival

 

USA Science & Engineering Festival

Saturday, April 26 – Sunday, April 27

SciStarter will be partnering up with PaleoQuest to demonstrate their Shark Finder project. The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center will also be coming by to tell you about their new citizen science initiatives! Project MERCCURI will also be on deck. Stop by and say hello!

HACK DAYS! SciStarter is hosting a hack event in D.C. (4/26 to 4/27) to develop open APIs for citizen science. If you’re interested in participating, sign up here!

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Philadelphia Science Festival

Friday, April 25 – Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Philly SciFest always brings a plethora of activities to choose from! SciStarter and Project MERCCURI will have a booth during the Science Carnival event on May 3rd. Come help us end this season of science festivals with a bang!

HACK DAY! SciStarter is hosting a hack event in Philly (4/9) to develop open APIs for citizen science. If you’re interested in participating, sign up here!

IAc8T


Interested in volunteering with us for any (or all) of these events? Shoot an e-mail to lily@scistarter.com!

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There’s an App for That! Citizen Science at Your Fingertipshttp://scistarter.com/blog/2014/04/theres-app-citizen-science-fingertips/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2014/04/theres-app-citizen-science-fingertips/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 15:18:15 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=9422 If you think science is out of reach, think again! Here are some citizen science apps you’ll always have at your fingertips! SciSpy With this App from The Science Channel, you can spy on nature and contribute to science. Share photos and observations, contribute to research initiatives. Get started!   SatCam Capture and share observations of […]

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If you think science is out of reach, think again! Here are some citizen science apps you’ll always have at your fingertips!

Screen shot 2014-04-04 at 11.07.22 AM

SciSpy

With this App from The Science Channel, you can spy on nature and contribute to science. Share photos and observations, contribute to research initiatives. Get started!

 

Screen shot 2014-04-04 at 11.07.27 AM

SatCam

Capture and share observations of sky and ground conditions near you to help researchers check the quality of satellite data. You’ll receive the satellite image captured at your location! Get started!

 

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What’s Invasive?

“Invasive” plants crowd out food sources for wild animals and create other headaches in nature. Use this app to help identify and locate them for removal. Get started!

 

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WildObs

Capture wildlife encounters and use them to develop your own wildlife calendar. Partner of National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Watch working with scientific studies to extract citizen science from your recorded encounters. Get started!

 

 

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SENSR

Want to run your own Citizen Science project? There’s an App for that, too! SENSR can help you create a mobile data collection tool for your project. Get started!


Calling hackers and developers! SciStarter is organizing pop-up hackathons to develop open APIs and other tools to help citizen scientists. Sign up to join us at hack days and science festivals in Boston, Philly, NYC, or Washington, DC in April!

Want to bring citizen science into the classroom? Check out our Educators Page to learn more about how to integrate projects into your curriculum.

SciStarter and Azavea (with support from Sloan Foundation) spent the last year investigating developments in software, hardware, and data processing capability for citizen science. Here’s what we found.

Want your project featured in our newsletter? Contact jenna@scistarter.com

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[WEBINAR] CitSci.Org “Feature Friday” webinar on 4/4: Plots, Subplots, Transects, and Protocols!http://scistarter.com/blog/2014/04/webinar-citsci-org-feature-friday-webinar-44-plots-subplots-transects-protocols/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2014/04/webinar-citsci-org-feature-friday-webinar-44-plots-subplots-transects-protocols/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 20:50:16 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=9412 Greetings from CitSci.org! Please join us for our next “Feature Friday” webinar. These webinars invite you to offer your ideas and thoughts about improvements to CitSci.org. The first Friday of each month these webinars will focus on a specific topic / feature of CitSci.org. We will demonstrate how to use the website feature and take feedback. The April […]

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Greetings from CitSci.org! Please join us for our next “Feature Friday” webinar. These webinars invite you to offer your ideas and thoughts about improvements to CitSci.org. The first Friday of each month these webinars will focus on a specific topic / feature of CitSci.org. We will demonstrate how to use the website feature and take feedback.

The April webinar will focus on “Plots, Subplots, Transects, and Protocols!” We will discuss the scientific value of using more sophisticated plot designs for your environmental monitoring efforts by sharing a few examples. We will then delve into how to use CitSci.org to create datasheets that support these plot designs, how to create custom species pick lists, and how volunteers can now report as many species as they happen to find at a given subplot for a specified monitoring location. We conclude by demonstrating how to view your subplot data online. Together, we hope to guide the future of this exciting platform in support of your collaborative citizen science / community based monitoring efforts.

WHAT: CitSci.org April “Feature Friday” webinar

WHEN: April 4th, 2014 (12:00 noon PST; 1:00 PM MST; 2:00 PM CST; 3:00 PM EST)

DURATION: 1 hour

Time: 1:00-2:00p (MST)

HOW TO JOIN

Use either your microphone and speakers (VoIP) or, call in using your telephone:

Dial +1 (786) 358-5420

Access Code: 557-036-925

Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting

Meeting ID: 557-036-925

Not at your computer? Click this link to join this meeting from your iPhone®, iPad®, Android® or Windows Phone® device via the GoToMeeting app.

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Citizen Science in the Classroom: School of Antshttp://scistarter.com/blog/2014/04/citizen-science-classroom-school-ants/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2014/04/citizen-science-classroom-school-ants/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 20:48:31 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=9389 Using School of Ants Citizen Science to Meet Common Core and Next Generation Teaching Standards in the Classroom Discovering Ants Grades: K-12th Description: School of Ants (SOA) is one of many urban wildlife citizen science projects hosted through the Your Wildlife project. Your Wildlife and School of Ants focuses on biodiversity and citizen-scientist driven inquiry […]

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Using School of Ants Citizen Science to Meet Common Core and Next Generation Teaching Standards in the Classroom

School of ants alex wild photos

Discovering Ants

Grades:

K-12th

Description:

School of Ants (SOA) is one of many urban wildlife citizen science projects hosted through the Your Wildlife project. Your Wildlife and School of Ants focuses on biodiversity and citizen-scientist driven inquiry in urban areas around schools and homes.  Dr. Andrea Lucky is the director of the SOA project out of the University of Florida’s Entomology Lab and the Nematology Lab at NC State. The idea behind the project is for citizen scientists to collect samples of ants from paved and green spaces around their homes and schools. They then send in the samples to the lab in Florida for identification. This data is used to generate a North American map of ant biodiversity and distribution.

SOA used to provide kits for ant collection but now they ask project participants to provide the supplies. As you can see from the list below these are limited to zip-lock bags, cookies, and index cards with some postal shipping. You can find step by step project instructions for the kits and collection in their free online PDF. Due to limited resources schools may participate by submitting one sample from each address or school location (no more than one). However you may submit multiple samples from different addresses (from the same person or class). Sampling takes exactly one hour. NOTE: as a caution be sure to have a minimal understanding of the biting and stinging ant varieties around your school. Do not collect ants that might cause harm to students.

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Computer with internet and printer
  • Instruction page for collecting ants
  • 8 white 3”x5” index cards
  • 2 Pecan Sandies Cookies (contains nuts, but must be used for standard protocol)
  • 8 small zip-lock bags (1 qt.)
  • 1 large zip-lock bag (1 gal.)
  • 1 envelope for mailing ants by US post, and postage
  • Freezer
  • Book
  • Magnifying glasses (optional)
  • Dr. Elanor’s Book of Common Ants PDF (free online through iTunes, optional)

ant capture alex wild

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

  • Ants are ubiquitous and the project can be done anywhere in the US around schools or homes.
  • Ants can be observed three seasons of the year in most locations.
  • There are minimal supplies required to participate in this project.
  • This project is a one-time activity, lasting one hour, so the time required is minimal.
  • The project can be a springboard for lessons focusing on arthropods and invertebrates around the school.

Teaching Materials:

The SOA website offers links and resources for ant identification and pictures, but the content is geared more towards ant researchers and scientists. They have a “coming soon” section for teachers, which is promising. Their free PDF ant key called “Who Ate My Cookie” is also handy. I am including some resources that I’ve found useful when teaching about ants:

Dr. Elanore's book

Dr. Elanor’s book of Common Ants is a great free resources to help with SOA (Photo: SOA)

Books:

Online Safety for Children

This project requires an adult to create an online account to upload data. You will need to provide your address and location but students do not need to enter an account and student personal information is not required.

Common Core and Next Gen. Standards Met:

Kindergarten:

Next. Gen. Science: K-LS1-1 Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals need to survive. K-ESS3-1 Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants and animals and the places they live. Teachers may introduce the needs of ants through one of free books or suggested reading in the list above (under Teaching Materials). They may also have students participate in SOA and make observations of live ants as to their behavior and needs. Students may make a drawing of the different environments where they find ants and describe the food, water, shelter, and space available to the ants. K-ESS3-3 Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air and/or other living things in the local environment. Students should study ants around their local school yard and make observations about human influences that impact the ant colony. They may then provide suggestions for reducing this impact as a class discussion.

Common Core:

Literacy: RI.K.1 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text. W.K.1 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell the reader the topic or name of a book they are writing about. Teachers may introduce the needs of ants through one of free books or suggested reading in the list above (under Teaching Materials). They may also have students participate in SOA and make observations of live ants as to their behavior and needs. Students may make a drawing or write an opinion piece about their observations and the text they have examined. W.K.7 Participate in a shared research and writing project. By participating on SOA students can share their research, collection techniques, observation, and thoughts on the life cycle of ants through writing and drawing.

Math: MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively. MP.4 Model with Mathematics Teachers may have students set up their SOA experiment, and while they are waiting for their 1 hour sampling period they may use magnifying glasses to observe ant behavior. Information may then be shared collectively and the teacher may generate a simple graph. Teachers may also have students conduct a basic survey of ant mound locations and then graph findings into simple categories such as sidewalk, bare dirt area, grass, sand, playground, etc. This activity may also be incorporated into a simple mapping lesson for geography.

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. At the beginning of the SOA project teachers may introduce the life cycle of ants through one of the free books or suggested reading in the list above (under Teaching Materials). Students may color in the sheets provided or make their own diagrams. Teachers may also use the plans listed above (or order a kit) for creating an ant farm for observation so that students may observe the adults and young.

Common Core:

Literacy: RI.1.1 Ask and answer key details in a text. RI.1.2 Identify the main topic and retell key details of a text. W.1.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects.  At the beginning of the SOA project teachers may introduce the needs and life cycle of ants. Teachers may use one of free books or suggested readings in the list above (under Teaching Materials). Students may also use these texts to answer key details about ants and answer/retell key details of the text.

Math: Math: MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively. MP.5 Use appropriate tools strategically. Teachers may have students set up their SOA experiment, and while they are waiting for their 1 hour sampling period they may use magnifying glasses to observe ant behavior. Information may then be shared collectively and the teacher may generate a simple graph. Teachers may also have students conduct a basic survey of ant mound locations, and then graph findings into simple categories such as sidewalk, bare dirt area, grass, sand, playground, etc. This activity may also be incorporated into a simple mapping lesson for geography.

school of ants map.

School of ants provides an interactive map to help you find where ants have been recorded and their species (Photo: SOA).

Second Grade:

Next. Gen. Science: 2-LS4-1 Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats. By participating in SOA students will be making observations about the biodiversity of ants found in each location. Teachers may assign identification activities using Dr. Elanore’s free guide. Teachers may also have students draw or list all of the living organisms in the area as a part of biodiversity. Alternately students may draw a simple food web and label the producers and consumers.

Common Core:

Literacy: W.2.6 Recall information from experience or gather information from provided sources to answer a question. SL.2.5 Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences. For the SOA project students should use the resources listed above in the Teaching Materials section (Dr. Elanor’s free ID PDF is a great start).  They may then participate in the SOA project and collect data about the specific species of ant they collected, the habitats they were found in, and other observations. This may then be shared, along with their research, through stories, poems, drawings, or visual displays.

Math: 2.MD.D.10 Draw a picture graph and a bar graph to represent a data set with up to four categories. Teachers may have students set up their SOA experiment, and while they are waiting for their 1 hour sampling period they may use magnifying glasses to observe the number of ants they find behaving in one four categories; guarding, foraging, defending, and grooming. Students may then create a picture or bar graph of their findings. Teachers may also have students conduct a basic survey of ant mound locations and then graph findings into simple categories such as bare dirt, grass, pavement, or sand. This activity may also be incorporated into a simple mapping lesson for geography.

Third Grade:

Next. Gen. Science: 3-LS4-3 Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all. Using SOA as a platform, teachers may have students place their sampling containers in the two different types of habitats and observe which habitat has the highest species diversity or numeric response to the bait. If you’re going to count ants you may wish to use a simple grid on the index card to help with counting or estimating. The students may also be divided into groups to conduct a survey of the biodiversity of each study location (where bait was laid out) and then compare which habitat (grass or pavement) had the most biodiversity. Results may be graphed and discussed with the entire class. It may useful to ask students to compare whether vertebrate or invertebrate biodiversity was highest in each location as a discussion point as well.

3-LS4-4 Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change. By observing the locations and behaviors of ants in the SOA project students may discuss what they think might happen to the ant biodiversity of two sampling areas if conditions changed. For example, if the grass was paved over or the pavement was driven and walked over regularly.  They may also discuss the difference in how ants respond to rain (light or flooding) in paved v. grassy areas. Teachers may consider having students conduct a survey of biotic and abiotic factors in the ecosystems studied for further analysis. Students should propose solutions to maintaining biodiversity of ant colonies in their school yard and then discuss the merits of the solutions.

3.LS1-1 Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.  Teachers may use the resources provided, in the Teaching Materials section of this post, to help students learn the life cycle of ants. They may then have students draw and compare the ant life cycle to that of frogs, bees, butterflies, or grasshoppers while noting the differences between complete and incomplete metamorphosis.

Common Core:

Literacy: W.3.9 Recall information from experience or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories. SL.3.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace. For the SOA project students should use the resources listed above in the Teaching Materials section (the free PDFs and Dr. Elanor’s book are a great start).  They may then participate in the SOA project and collect data about the specific species of ant they collected, the habitats they were found in, and other observations. Textual information and research observations may then be shared through oral and visual displays.

Math: MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively. MP.4 Model with mathematics. MP.5 Use appropriate tools strategically. 3.MD.B.3 Draw a scaled picture graph and a scaled bar graph to represent a data set with several categories. Teachers may have students set up their SOA experiment, and while they are waiting for their 1 hour sampling period they may use magnifying glasses to observe the number of ants they find behaving in one four categories; guarding, foraging, defending, and grooming. Students may then create a bar graph of their findings. Teachers may also have students conduct a basic survey of ant mound locations and then graph findings into simple categories such as bare dirt, grass, pavement, or sand. To make the activity more complex teachers may also have students quantify the biodiversity of the “green” and “paved” study site and graph the data that is collected. This activity may also be incorporated into a simple mapping lesson.

Alex wild ant photo

One of the ant species you may see in your study (Photo: SOA, Alex Wild)

Fourth Grade:

Next. Gen. Science: 4-ESS2-2 Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features. Although not the traditional study of geography students may use the SOA project as a platform to create their own maps of the topography and features around ant mounds found in their study sites. Students may use these maps to extrapolate patterns about the geographic location of ant mounds. Biotic and abiotic factors may also be examined and mapped; such as shade trees or bushes, moisture, temperature, plant biodiversity, nearby mounds, sidewalks, roads, etc. Students should create a proper map using keys, symbols, compass rose, scale bars etc.

Common Core:

Literacy: W.4.8. Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources. W.4.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.  Students may use the texts suggested in the Teaching Materials section of this post to help them explain their findings in the geographic survey from the Next. Gen. Standards listed above. They may use the keys to identify the specific species of insect and to support or refute ideas about mound location preferences of different species.

Math: MP.4 Model with mathematics. Teachers may have students use rulers or meter sticks to quantify distances of mounds, mapped in the activity listed above for NGSS. Students may make inferences about mound location to food sources, water, shade, protection or vulnerability to predators, or even substrate preferences.

Middle School:

Next. Gen. Science: MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations. Students may use the SOA project as a platform for collecting data about the biotic and abiotic similarities of the grass and paved ecosystems of the study, and the ant species they observe. They may construct and argument about ant biodiversity based on changes to the ecosystem brought about by urbanization and paving.

Literacy: RST.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. RST.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions. Teachers may have students use Google Scholar to find scholarly articles related to ant distribution, feeding preferences, or other areas of interested related to ants that may be found in their local study sites for the SOA project (See Dr. Elanor’s Guide for more information). Students may develop a hypothesis, research their topic, and then provide a summary of their text and how it supports or refutes their hypothesis.

Math: MP.4 Model with mathematics. 6SP.B.5 Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context. There are a variety of studies that may be conducted through the SOA project outside of the collection of the vials of ants. Students may use data from the geographic map provided by the site, comparing the species found in different North American regions. Alternatively teachers may have students set up behavior studies of ants or studies about ant mound locations and preferences. Data may be collected and analyzed. The Adult book Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration. Holldobloer and Wilson may also provide inspiration for more advanced studies and analysis.

High School:

Next. Gen. Science: HS-LS2-2 Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales. Teachers may use the SOA project as a platform for further study of biodiversity. They may assign students to develop a study question and hypothesis about biodiversity in different habitats and have students develop a system for collecting data about their study question. One suggestion would be to have students map the biodiversity of the SOA study sites. For the SOA project they only ask for paved and grass, but teachers may wish to expand the comparison to forested, paved, grass, or dirt. Students may collect data about biodiversity of flora and fauna as well as vertebrates and invertebrates (use Dr. Elanor’s ant ID book to help). They may also calculate distances to food sources, water, shade, other mounds. Students may quantify their findings and then discuss whether their data supports or refutes their hypothesis about biodiversity of ant species. They may also discuss how this might affect the macro scale of consumers that rely on ants and their ecological services.

Find more posts like Citizen Science in the Classroom: School of Ants by Karen McDonald on the SciStarter Blog. Your source for citizen science and other science you can do.

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Science enthusiasts can join forces with top researchers through a partnership between DISCOVER Magazine and SciStarterhttp://scistarter.com/blog/2014/04/scistarter-partnership-discover/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2014/04/scistarter-partnership-discover/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 14:00:12 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=9403 PRESS RELEASE (PDF) April 1, 2014 For more information: info@scistarter.com PHILADELPHIA, PA. (April 1, 2014) – A “citizen science” movement is sweeping the country, with more than 700 active research projects to prove it. The fields that citizen science advances are diverse: ecology, astronomy, medicine, psychology, linguistics, genetics, engineering, and many more. DISCOVER is teaming up […]

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PRESS RELEASE (PDF)
April 1, 2014
For more information:
info@scistarter.com

discoverlogo

PHILADELPHIA, PA. (April 1, 2014) – A “citizen science” movement is sweeping the country, with more than 700 active research projects to prove it. The fields that citizen science advances are diverse: ecology, astronomy, medicine, psychology, linguistics, genetics, engineering, and many more.

SciStarter-logo

DISCOVER is teaming up with SciStarter to present the Citizen Science Salon, a print, online and social media partnership. The new Citizen Science Salon blog will feature selections from SciStarter’s Project Finder that are related to DISCOVER’s print and online content. Each print issue of DISCOVER will highlight SciStarter opportunities for readers to take action on topics they care about, directly related to articles they are reading.

Additionally, each week, SciStarter will help Discover curate citizen science projects, ranging from analyzing distant galaxies to monitoring frog, firefly and whale populations, to detecting home and body microbiomes, even to helping deliberate on science policy. Now science enthusiasts who want to collaborate with leading scientists can visit DiscoverMagazine.com to join cutting-edge research projects.

“This partnership moves DISCOVER into the fast-growing realm of citizen science,” says Steve George, Editor in Chief of DISCOVER Magazine. “Our readers tell us they’re eager to help study and explore the world, but it can be difficult for them to know where to begin. Now we’ll be connecting our readers to opportunities to participate in scientific research within our print articles.”

“DISCOVER has enormous credibility in the scientific community. Its print and online readers are enthusiastic and intelligent, and their participation in research projects will be invaluable to researchers,” adds Darlene Cavalier, founder of SciStarter.

Researchers and team leaders who want their project featured can submit it to the SciStarter Project Finder for consideration by the SciStarter editors.

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About SciStarter

SciStarter is a citizen science hotspot where millions of people find hundreds of searchable projects aligned with topics and activities of interest to them. Researchers add their projects to the Project Finder and SciStarter helps recruit participants from all walks of life.

About DISCOVER

DISCOVER makes science entertaining and understandable through beautiful writing, stunning images, and clear explanations. The monthly magazine covers all of science, from astronomy to human origins to the environment.  DiscoverMagazine.com is one of the top science destinations on the Internet, with more than two million monthly visitors. It features daily science news coverage, image and video galleries, and a lineup of popular science blogs.

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8 Great Reasons Why You Should Use Citizen Science in Your Classhttp://scistarter.com/blog/2014/03/benefits-citizen-science-classroom/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2014/03/benefits-citizen-science-classroom/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 15:26:26 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=9280 Why Classrooms Should Integrate Citizen Science After writing quite a few entries in the series “Citizen Science in the Classroom” I thought it would be helpful to explain a bit more about the benefits of citizen science science in the classroom, and to provide a useful resource to teachers and administrators that may help in […]

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Collecting amphibian data (Photo: Karen McDonald)

Why Classrooms Should Integrate Citizen Science

After writing quite a few entries in the series “Citizen Science in the Classroom” I thought it would be helpful to explain a bit more about the benefits of citizen science science in the classroom, and to provide a useful resource to teachers and administrators that may help in justification and support of projects.  These may help in writing grants, applying to administration for support, or in convincing you, as a teacher, why participation in citizen science is so important.

Sense of Community and Place

Citizen science is a way to contribute to a community. One of the best ways to introduce citizen science to students is to incorporate a geography lesson. This may be using something like Google Earth, and showing students where they are, where the citizen science project managers are located, and zooming in to the ecosystem and communities participating. By giving students a sense of place and belonging in a community (global or local) they gain the desire to participate and to become a citizen of that community. This is what “citizen science” is all about. Stewardship is the natural upshot of participation in research projects. Students suddenly care about what they are observing, and the community for which they are observing, thus they develop the desire to care for the community.

Learn More: On the Scistarter home page you can search for specific places in your community where you can participate in citizen science. This may be in a classroom, at a computer, at night, at home, in a car, on a walk, in a park. You can choose where in your community your class can best participate.

Recognition of Self Importance

Citizen science allows students to feel a sense of self-importance; they are recognized as valuable contributors to a larger goal or scientific effort. With the advent of computers and technology scientists are no longer in a vacuum. They need the community as a whole to help them collect and analyze massive amounts of data. Even the smallest members of this community, school age students, can contribute. As a teacher you can help students develop this sense of self-importance by monitoring the real-time data on the websites where you upload your information and showing students how their data contributes to understanding trends and information. This type of inquiry based learning allows students to ask questions, collect data, and to answer their questions.  Students are given recognition as a part of the science community, which is often lacking in other fields.

Learn More: Many projects, like Project Noah or NASA’s “Be a Martian“, have recognition for achieving specific levels of participation. This might be a virtual merit badge or patch or some other online reward.

Project Noah Patchs

Project Noah provides virtual “patches” as reward for participation in their projects. (Photo: Project Noah)

Understanding that Research isn’t Just for Scientists

Citizen science in the classroom allows students to understand that they can engage in science without having advanced degrees, without special tools, and outside of a laboratory and white lab coat. By integrating citizen science into your lessons you can help students develop the confidence to try making observations, collecting data, and exploring the natural world. The skills of natural observation are being lost to hard sciences, specialization, and teaching to the test. Students are not encouraged to engage in research on a local level, at home, or in their communities. Citizen science reverses this. Science becomes attainable, and something that anyone can participate in, regardless of being in an urban or rural environment.

Learn More: On the Scistarter Project Finder page you can search for projects that meet your needs, such as urban or rural, low cost or free, indoors or outdoors, and more.

Reaching Different Types of Learners

There are many different learning styles in the classroom. Some students learn best by reading, some by listening, some by drawing, and some by talking with others. The benefit of citizen science is that many different learning styles can be incorporated into each project. Citizen science lends itself to kinesthetic learning (hands-on) by collecting data and measurements, reading and analysis of data or background research, co-operative group sharing, and opportunities for verbal instruction, graphs and drawing, sharing, and analysis. Because of the hands-on nature of citizen science it may also be a candidate for students with autism or special needs or those that learn best through kinesthetic activities.

Learn More: To learn more about student learning styles check out this great National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) article on learning styles and multiple intelligences in students by Barbra M. Manner.

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Butterfly surveys and citizen science (Photo: Karen McDonald)

Development of Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking is one of the skills that is never directly stated in teaching standards but it is implied. It is the ability to make observations from experiences, to reflect on those experiences, apply reason and conceptualization and then to synthesize the information into a meaningful belief or action. Citizen science provides the platform for student experience in research, participation in a science community, and opportunities to apply reason and conceptualization to methods of data collection, data analysis, and synthesis of meaning as applied to data sets from the “whole” project. These critical thinking skills are valuable as a tool that can spill over into other fields and disciplines.

Learn More: If you would like to learn more about developing critical thinking in children then check out his PDF article from the Surry College Director of Early Childhood Education on “The Importance of Applying Critical Thinking to Children’s Learning.”

Use of Multiple Skill Sets

As mentioned earlier critical thinking is just one skill that students may learn to use and apply during citizen science projects. Depending on the project they may be asked to use a wide variety of other skills from physical observations in the natural world, mathematical modeling, and application of reasoning and judgment to observations. Students may be asked to research the topic, use computer skills for entering data, learn new measurement tools or apps, model, and to work in a group setting by sharing their data and findings. Citizen science asks students to engage on social, environmental, mathematical, and analytical levels. These skills are a part of the testing in the Common Core Partnership for Assessment for Readiness for College Careers (PARCC). Real-life citizen science projects mimic the kinds of skills students will need, for the test, and once they graduate.

Learn More: Never heard of the PARCC testing? Visit their website to learn more. There are tests for 3rd through 12th grade.

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Salamander and amphibian surveys (Photo: Karen McDonald)

Application of the Scientific Method

Although the “application of the scientific method” could technically fall under the “skill sets” mentioned above, it’s important enough to warrant its own short discussion. By participating in citizen science projects teachers can help students critically analyze the way that scientists collect data, develop their study projects, enter data, and make sense of what they find. This helps them understand how the scientific method is applied in the real world. Teachers may also encourage “spin-offs” of the citizen science projects by having students develop their own studies using the scientific method, and modeling their projects after the projects of other researchers.  In citizen science students learn critical thinking skills and the steps of the scientific method which can be applied to almost any field.

Meeting Next Generation and Common Core Teaching Standards

For teachers, the ability to meet the standards that they have to satisfy for state and regional teaching requirements is critical. Fortunately most, if not all, citizen science meets many of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core (CC) teaching standards as well as Partnership for Assessment for Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests. I’ve worked to help connect specific citizen science projects in SciStarter with these standards. You can find examples, with grade by grade break-downs, on the SciStarter “Citizen Science in the Classroom” page.

I know there are many ways that teachers and students benefit from citizen science and these standards are just the tip of the iceberg. I didn’t even go into how scientists and researchers benefit, and they do! How do you, and your classes, benefit from citizen science in the classroom?

Find more posts like 8 Great Reasons Why You Should Use Citizen Science in Your Class by Karen McDonald on the SciStarter Blog. Your source for citizen science and other science you can do.

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Citizen Science in the Classroom: Project NestWatchhttp://scistarter.com/blog/2014/03/citizen-science-classroom-project-nestwatch/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2014/03/citizen-science-classroom-project-nestwatch/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 15:01:51 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=9361   Using Cornell Ornithology Lab’s Project NestWatch to Meet Common Core and Next Generation Teaching Standards Grades: K-12th Description: Project NestWatch is hosted through Cornell University’s Ornithology lab located in Sapsucker Woods, Ithaca, New York. When you look for it on the SciStarter website or online remember that the project’s name is one word not […]

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Nest watch home page

Project Nest Watch is a great citizen science project, through Cornell University, for your classroom. (Photo: NestWatch website)

Using Cornell Ornithology Lab’s Project NestWatch to Meet Common Core and Next Generation Teaching Standards

Grades:

K-12th

Description:

Project NestWatch is hosted through Cornell University’s Ornithology lab located in Sapsucker Woods, Ithaca, New York. When you look for it on the SciStarter website or online remember that the project’s name is one word not two. It is a national project, open to those in urban and rural environments, that asks participants to monitor nesting birds. For the most part this is a spring or summer activity, though for eagles and other early nesters observation may start as early as February. Cornell researchers are interested in the reproductive biology of birds, nesting start times, numbers of eggs laid, hatching, mortality rates, and fledging. This data helps researchers collect information that might clarify the effects of climate change, urbanization, habitat loss, invasive species, and changing population dynamics. You, or your class, will be asked to learn and observe the proper protocols for nest watching, register a user name and password online, pass a short nest watching quiz, and enter data every 3-4 days during the nesting season.

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Computer with internet access and printer.
  • Access to locations with possible bird nests, cavities, nest boxes, or trees.
  • Binoculars, at least one pair.
  • Field guide(s) [see "Teaching Resources" below]
  • Optional: Nest boxes or nest box with camera (Information provided below if you’re interested in purchasing or making these)

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

  • Project NestWatch is a national project and it can be conducted in urban or rural environments across North America.
  • This project is ideal for elementary through middle school students and requires very little investment of time.
  • The website provides extensive training resources, data sheets, and access to data from previous years.
  • Students gain a sense of “ownership” over their natural community as they make observations and follow the life cycle of the birds.
  • This project can be conducted over a period of years, following the same bird or birds in the observation area.

Teaching Materials:

Cornell provides a nest watching code of conduct, nest watching protocols and guidelines, video tutorials on data entry, extensive training materials on identifying nests and eggs, content about nest box construction and monitoring, bird life cycle information, information about invasive species, and commonly encountered questions or problems. Cornell’s website also has great access to information such as eBird, many different bird cams you can log into to watch nesting birds (along with curriculum), and even a “Celebrate Urban Birds” project. They have free kits and resources through their Bird Sleuth K-12 program. You can find nest box construction plans and information on the main website of the Nest Watch project. There are a variety of wired and wireless cameras online, as well as boxes with built in cameras. If this is something you’re interested in it’s worth a quick bit of research online. They run from $50 to $150, but they can be used again and again and make a great addition to any classroom. There are a few resources that I would suggest to help with using this project in the classroom.

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With project NestWatch you can upload sightings of any species of bird, but there are some that are of keen importance to researchers. (Photo: NestWatch website)

Online Safety for Children

For this project the teacher will need to create an online account for the class. Students do not need an account or to give information. You will need to provide your location and some basic information. If you are working with high school students you may want to consider having them sign up for their own accounts either for NestWatch or eBird so that they can access and enter data from anywhere. They will need parental permission and possibly assistance.

Common Core and Next Gen. Standards Met:

Kindergarden:

Next. Gen. Science: K-LS1-1 Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals need to survive. K-ESS3-1 Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants and animals and the places they live. ). For both of these standards teachers may use the reading resources suggested in the “Teaching Materials” of this post to help guide a discussion about the things birds need to live and survive and the places they live. Students may make a model of their local ecosystem, labeling the “food, water, and shelter” that is necessary for their NestWatch study bird. K-ESS3-3 Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air and/or other living things in the local environment. Students should suggest ideas, though drawing or discussion, about the resources that birds need to survive, build a nest, and rear young. They may then discuss reducing human impacts on either their particular study nest or on nesting birds in general. Common Core: Literacy: RI.K.1 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text. W.K.1 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces in which they tell the reader the topic or name of a book they are writing about. W.K.7 Participate in a shared research and writing project. Teachers may use the resources suggested in the “Teaching Materials” section above, and have students read and answer questions about the texts. By participating in the NestWatch research project students will have to learn the correct procedures for nest watching (to prevent endangering the birds) which may inspire drawings or writing assignments about how and why they are observing the birds, safety precautions, and what they should be looking for. Math: MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively. MP.4 Model with Mathematics. K.MD.A.2. Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has “more of/less of” the attribute and describe the difference. By participating in NestWatch students can quantify the observation period of nesting, weather patterns, rain collection, eggs laid, hatching success, and fledging of the birds. If there are multiple nests then students may compare these measurable attributes between the nests.

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 use the resources suggested in the “Teaching Materials” section above to encourage discussion about the life cycle of birds, what young birds look like, and how they are different than the parents. In their first year(s) of life most juvenile birds retain coloring that makes them look like a female. This coloring protects them from aggression and competition by adults males. Teachers could use this adaptation as a discussion point. Common Core: Literacy: RI.1.1 Ask and answer key details in a text. RI.1.2 Identify the main topic and retell key details of a text. W.1.7 Participate in shared research and writing projects. Teachers may use the resources suggested in the “Teaching Materials” section above, and have students read and answer questions about the texts. By participating in the NestWatch research project students will also have to learn the correct procedures for nest watching (to prevent endangering the birds) which may also inspire writing assignments about how and why they are observing the birds and what they should be looking for. Assessment may be conducted by having the students take the “NestWatch” observer quiz (testing their knowledge of the procedures) to become certified to continue with the project. Math: MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively. MP.5 Use appropriate tools strategically. By participating in NestWatch students can quantify the observation period of nesting, weather patterns, rain collection, eggs laid, hatching success, and fledging of the birds. These numbers can then be entered into the data sheets. If there are multiple nests then students may compare measurable attributes between the nests. Data is also available for download from the NestWatch site.  Teachers can download data targeting particular species’ nesting attempts and success, clutch size, average suvivorship, etc. by state or region. This data can be as much or little as you need and can be used for graphing and analysis in the classroom.

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During NestWatch students can observe birds building nests, laying eggs, hatching, and growing baby birds all for science! (Photo: Nest Watch and Dave Wendelken)

 

Second Grade:

Next. Gen. Science: 2-LS4-1 Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats. Teachers may have students compare their nest’s study site to other areas; and have them catalogue the biotic and abiotic resources in those places for comparison. K-2-ETS1-2 Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a problem. Teachers may have the students draw the bird(s) they are observing for the NestWatch project, and their nest(s). Students should discuss why the nest is shaped like it is, how it is formed, where it is hidden and built, and why the parents used the materials they chose for construction. This discussion may also include bird anatomy and adaptations for flight, finding food, and rearing young. Having students try to build a nest out of sticks and mud (outside) is also an interesting activity around architecture and design. Common Core: Literacy: W.2.6 Recall information from experience or gather information from provided sources to answer a question. SL.2.5 Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences. Students may recall information from texts (see the “Teaching Materials” section above), or their own experiences with the NestWatch project, to answer a hypothesis or question about bird nesting, hatching, and life cycles. Teachers may have them create a multimedia display of their observations. Math: 2.MD.D.10 Draw a picture graph and a bar graph to represent a data set with up to four categories. Solve simple put-together, take-apart, and compare problems using information presented in the bar graph. By participating in NestWatch students may quantify the observation period of nesting, weather patterns, rain collection, eggs laid, hatching success, and fledging of the birds over one year or many years.  If there are multiple nests then students may compare measurable attributes between the nests. Data is also available for download from the NestWatch site.  Teachers can download data targeting particular species’ nesting attempts, average clutch size, numbers of hatched and unhatched eggs, numbers of hatchlings, the number and averages of fledglings and nestlings all by state or region.  NestWatch also offers calculations of reproductive success and raw nesting attempt data. This data can be as much or little as you need and can be used for graphing and analysis in the classroom.  Data from eBird may also be useful for larger scale data analysis, or even more specific regional data analysis, of information collected about specific species other than nesting.

Third Grade:

Next. Gen. Science: 3-LS4-3 Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all. Teachers may have students compare their nest’s study site to other areas, and have them catalog the biotic and abiotic resources present as well as all the organisms. The students may then make a hypothesis about nesting location choices and why specific species may or may not be present. 3-LS4-4 Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change. Students should compare their NestWatch observation nest(s) and then discuss why the birds live there and what would happen to the flora and fauna if the area became more or less developed. They should then offer either a drawn, written, or verbal solution that would mitigate these effects. The entire class should discuss solutions. This standard may also be approached as a “Green School” activity or assessment of how eco-friendly their school is for birds and wildlife, and then offering possible solutions. 3.LS1-1 Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death. Teachers may use the reading materials in the “Teaching Resources” section above to help students develop models of the life cycle of birds. This may be compared to the life cycles of other organisms such as mammals, or with creatures that have complete and incomplete metamorphosis such as frogs and dragonflies. Common Core: Literacy:  W.3.9 Recall information from experience or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories. SL.3.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace. Teachers may use the resources suggested in the “Teaching Materials” section above, and have students read and answer questions about the texts. By participating in the NestWatch research project students will also have to learn the correct procedures for nest watching, to prevent endangering the birds, which may also inspire writing assignments and presentations about how and why they are observing the birds, what they should be looking for, and/or present their data and findings. Assessment may be conducted by having the students take the “NestWatch” observer quiz (testing their knowledge of the procedures) to become certified to continue with the project. Math: MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively. MP.4 Model with mathematics. MP.5 Use appropriate tools strategically. 3.MD.B.3 Draw a scaled picture graph and a scaled bar graph to represent a data set with several categories. By participating in NestWatch students may quantify the observation period of nesting, weather patterns, rain collection, eggs laid, hatching success, and fledging of the birds over one year or many years.  If there are multiple nests then students may compare measurable attributes between the nests. Data is also available for download from the NestWatch site.  Teachers can download data targeting particular species’ nesting attempts, average clutch size, numbers of hatched and unhatched eggs, numbers of hatchlings, the number and averages of fledglings and nestlings all by state or region.  NestWatch also offers calculations of reproductive success and raw nesting attempt data.This data can be as much or little as you need and can be used for graphing and analysis in the classroom.  Data from eBird may also be useful for larger scale data analysis, or even more specific regional data analysis, of information collected about specific species other than nesting.

Fourth Grade:

Next. Gen. Science: 4-ESS2-2 Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features. Teachers may use the maps from NestWatchs’ “Map Room” to compare nesting by species and time of year. NestWatch also provides nesting season animations, for over 30 species, that show the nesting establishment of nests through the previous nesting season of the year(s). Instructors may have students take this data and information and then compare topography, temperature, and location of the nesting sites and when nesting begins. They may then hypothesize how geography and other factors influence nesting distribution and time of year. Common Core: Literacy:  W.4.8. Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources. W.4.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. Teachers may use the resources suggested in the “Teaching Materials” section above, and have students read and answer questions about the texts relating to the research project. Students may then take notes and list their sources relating to the project. Teachers may also have students research the particular nesting species that they are watching for the project and then report on what they find related to data analysis from their site or the data that the instructor downloads from the NestWatch website for analysis of nesting information for that species. Math: MP.4 Model with mathematics. By participating in NestWatch students may quantify the observation period of nesting, weather patterns, rain collection, eggs laid, hatching success, and fledging of the birds over one year or many years.  If there are multiple nests then students may compare measurable attributes between the nests. Data is also available for download from the NestWatch site.  Teachers can download data targeting particular species’ nesting attempts, average clutch size, numbers of hatched and unhatched eggs, numbers of hatchlings, the number and averages of fledglings and nestlings all by state or region.  NestWatch also offers calculations of reproductive success and raw nesting attempt data.This data can be as much or little as you need and can be used for graphing and analysis in the classroom.  Data from eBird may also be useful for larger scale data analysis, or even more specific regional data analysis, of information collected about specific species other than nesting.

Fifth Grade:

Next. Gen. Science: 5-LS2-1 Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment. Teachers may assign students to draw or model the food web from their study site(s). They may then draw the flow of matter and energy from producers to consumers. Common Core: Literacy:  RI.5.1 Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. RI.5.9 Integrate information from several texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information. SL.5.5 Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.  Teachers may use the resources suggested in the “Teaching Materials” section above, and have students read and answer questions about the texts relating to the research project. Students may then take notes and list their sources relating to the project. Teachers may also have students research the particular nesting species that they are watching for the project and then report on what they find related to data analysis from their site or the data that the instructor downloads from the NestWatch website for analysis of nesting information for that species. Math: MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitative. MP.4 Model with mathematics. MP.5 Use appropriate tools strategically. By participating in NestWatch students may quantify the observation period of nesting, weather patterns, rain collection, eggs laid, hatching success, and fledging of the birds over one year or many years.  If there are multiple nests then students may compare measurable attributes between the nests. Data is also available for download from the NestWatch site.  Teachers can download data targeting particular species’ nesting attempts, average clutch size, numbers of hatched and unhatched eggs, numbers of hatchlings, the number and averages of fledglings and nestlings all by state or region.  NestWatch also offers calculations of reproductive success and raw nesting attempt data.This data can be as much or little as you need and can be used for graphing and analysis in the classroom.  Data from eBird may also be useful for larger scale data analysis, or even more specific regional data analysis, of information collected about specific species other than nesting.

Nest watch mapping room

Project NestWatch offers a special “Maproom” that allows students and teachers to visualize nesting patterns for specific species of birds. (Photo: NestWatch website)

Middle School:

Next. Gen. Science: MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations. Teachers may have students conduct an ecological survey of biotic and abiotic factors in their local NestWatch ecosystem and a more urbanized or developed ecosystem (or less developed). Students should also inventory all the living organisms in the ecosystems. They may then construct an argument, based on their observations, that physical changes to an ecosystem affect populations. This may also be conducted by having students analyze the flow of energy through the ecosystem by having students classify producers, primary, secondary, and tertiary consumers in the ecosystems and relating these to the species of bird studied and its places in this “food-web”. MS-LS2-2 Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems. Teachers may assign students to analyze data from the NestWatch website, relating to a specific species of bird found nesting across North America. Students may hypothesize about pattern prediction relating to temperature, geographic region, topography or other factors that may affect nesting time of year, eggs laid per clutch, hatching success, fledgling mortality etc. Data from eBird may also be useful for larger scale data analysis, or even more specific regional data analysis, of information collected about specific species. Common Core: Literacy:  WHST.6-8.2 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence. Teachers may have students research the particular nesting species that they are watching for the project and then report on what they find related to data analysis from their site or the data that the instructor downloads from the NestWatch website for that species.  Please see the NGSS standards above for ideas about downloading different types of data. Math: MP.4 Model with mathematics. 6SP.B.5 Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context. By participating in NestWatch students may quantify the observation period of nesting, weather patterns, rain collection, eggs laid, hatching success, and fledging of the birds over one year or many years.  If there are multiple nests then students may compare measurable attributes between the nests. Data is also available for download from the NestWatch site.  Teachers can download data targeting particular species’ nesting attempts, average clutch size, numbers of hatched and unhatched eggs, numbers of hatchlings, the number and averages of fledglings and nestlings all by state or region.  NestWatch also offers calculations of reproductive success and raw nesting attempt data. This data can be as much or little as you need and can be used for graphing and analysis in the classroom.  Data from eBird may also be useful for larger scale data analysis, or even more specific regional data analysis, of information collected about specific species other than nesting.

Savannah_Sparrow,_Passerculus_sandwichensis,_nestling_baby_bird_in_nest_with_2_eggs_AB_Canada

An example of a Savannah sparrow nest. (Photo: Wiki Commons)

High School:

Next. Gen. Science: Common Core: HS-LS2-2 Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales. Teachers may have students conduct an ecological survey of biotic and abiotic factors in their local NestWatch ecosystem and a more urbanized or developed ecosystem (or less developed). Students should also inventory all the living organisms in the ecosystems. They may then construct an argument, based on their observations, that physical changes to an ecosystem affect populations and biodiversity. This may also be conducted by having students analyze the flow of energy through the ecosystem by having students classify producers, primary, secondary, and tertiary consumers in the ecosystems and relating these to the species of bird studied and its places in this “food-web”. NestWatch project-wide data may also be downloaded to help support student explanations and analysis. Teachers and students can download data targeting particular species’ nesting attempts, average clutch size, numbers of hatched and unhatched eggs, numbers of hatchlings, the number and averages of fledglings and nestlings all by state or region.  NestWatch also offers calculations of reproductive success and raw nesting attempt data. This data can be as much or little as you need and can be used for graphing and analysis in the classroom.  Data from eBird may also be useful for larger scale data analysis, or even more specific regional data analysis, of information collected about specific species other than nesting. HS-LS2-7 Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.  In tandem with the requirement mentioned above (HS-LS2-2) students may offer solutions for bioremediation of specific ecosystems and their associated populations.

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