Archive for the ‘BioBlitz’ tag
Each year since 1996, the National Geographic Society joins with the U.S. National Park Service to host one BioBlitz, and this year it will be held down on the bayou! On May 17th-18th citizen scientists will join field biologists to map and inventory the living creatures in the Big Easy’s Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve.
A BioBlitz is a 24-hour biological survey during which volunteer scientists and park officials guide teachers, students and families to catalogue an area’s biodiversity in a brief but intense manner. Located on the Mississippi River delta, Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve is a 23,000-acre wetland containing an astounding diversity of plant and animal life. This includes nutrias, 200-plus bird species, and various marsh, swamp and forest plants and insects. Volunteers will be led by park officials and expert scientists who will help guide the cataloging process.
This is a unique opportunity for non-scientists to conduct real fieldwork that will contribute to the park’s official species list. Last year’s volunteers included over 2,000 schoolchildren! But the event is not all notebooks and specimen bags. In true Nawlins style, this event will include a Biodiversity Festival, with music, food, art, and fun!
Sustaining biodiverisity is of both biological and economic importance. Now, BioBlitzes are held in various countries around the world and are opportunities for scientists to engage and educate the public about biodiversity a fun and interactive way. Look for one near you!
Locations of past NGS/NPS BioBlitzes include Saguaro National Park, Arizona, Biscayne Bay, Florida and Indian Dunes National Lakes. Last year, over 5,000 volunteers participated and catalogued 489 species of plants and animals in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.
Volunteer registration opened April 14th, and inventory groups fill up quickly! If you are interested in volunteering for any part of the event, email firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more about the project at National Geographic’s website. Scientists interested in volunteering should visit this link for more specific information. There are also additional learning resources for educators.
It happens every year, and you’re right: it’s just not fair. After nearly three months of uninterrupted fun, gone are the barbeques, ball games and pool parties that dominated the summer schedule just as Labor Day signals the sudden arrival of the shorter, colder, and more structured days of the school year. But before you cast yourself into the depths of the autumn blues, rest assured that we are working hard to make this year’s science lessons a little different and—especially if you like nature and the outdoors—a little more fun!
Below is our third annual “Back-to-School” list of projects recommended to get teachers and students thinking about how to incorporate citizen science in the classroom. Check out our previous installments (2011, 2010) for additional ideas.
Participate in Project BudBurst: The National Ecological Observatory Network invites student citizen scientists to submit their observations of the phenophases (leafing, flowering, fruit ripening) of local grasses, shrubs and trees. This data will be compiled and compared to historical figures to help scientists learn more about the responsiveness of specific plant species to climate change. Their teachers, meanwhile, might consider enrolling in the BudBurst Academy, an online course for K-12 educators providing all the necessary information for implementing Project Budburst and engaging in citizen science in your classroom.
Plan your own BioBlitz: Even (or perhaps especially) if you missed the 2012 BioBlitz co-hosted by the National Park Service and the National Geographic Society, consider planning your own in your own neighborhood or schoolyard. These biodiversity snapshots provide valuable data for analysis of local species and their habitats.
Count some bugs: Don’t let those math skills go to waste! SciStarter features several opportunities to count stuff, particularly insects and other creepy crawlies. Just pick your favorite: dragonflies, butterflies, bumble bees, spiders, ants, and worms.
Heads up: So bugs aren’t you’re thing. No problem. How about some astronomy? You can grow tomatoes to assess the feasibility of long-term space travel; search for the compound that stores solar power and thus solves the world’s energy crisis; craft a story about your favorite astronomical bodies; or help astronomers search for and identify new planets and stars!
Be a mapmaker: The U.S. Geological Survey is considering the restoration of The National Map Corps, its volunteer mapping initiative, launching a pilot program in the state of Colorado. Anyone with an Internet connection can update the national map, adding the important man-made structures throughout the community such as hospitals, fire stations, and schools. The USGS could expand the program into other areas in the future if its initial efforts are successful. Come on Colorado!
Attention all backyard explorers and rosebush whackers: this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. Your days of leading patient parents on perilous neighborhood expeditions are over. Put down that “machete.” Stop mushing the dog. Grab your merit badges. Adventure is calling!
This Friday, August 24, the National Park Service and the National Geographic Society will host their annual BioBlitz species count at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Hundreds of students and thousands of local citizens will join about 200 scientists, naturalists, and explorers from around the country to collect and analyze wildlife data, transforming the forest into a massive outdoor classroom alive with curiosity and discovery.
“I am always moved by the commitment of the National Parks Service to protecting our country’s ecological diversity and sharing it with the general public,” said Daniel Edelson, Vice President for Education at National Geographic. “The BioBlitzes are…explicit strategies for preparing young people to care for their world.”
National Geographic has been “inspiring people to care about the planet” through its magazine since 1888, but it is relatively new to the business of “preparing” them to do so. With the rapid proliferation of digital media, the society saw an opportunity to provide teachers and students with the resources to learn (curricula, films, games) and the tools to take action through a more robust educational initiative, thus engaging with their audience in ways never thought possible. Can’t make it to Colorado to catch bugs, spot birds, and count elk on Friday? You can take part in the action via their Google Hangout starting at 3 PM (EST), or even plan your own BioBlitz by following their instructions.
“It’s exciting to see that other people are embracing the concept and using the resources we developed to conduct their own biodiversity research in their own parks in their own communities,” said Sean O’Connor, a BioBlitz project manager.
This year’s BioBlitz, the sixth in a series of ten leading up to the National Park Service’s Centennial in 2016, comes amidst the strain of another round of federal budget cuts and continued lack of funding for the program. As the National Park Service prepares to face the challenges ahead—political, economic, environmental, or otherwise—National Geographic aims to show its next generation of stewards why its 397 parks encompassing ver 84 million acres of land are worth preserving.
“We believe [the most important lesson] we can teach young people is how interconnected our world is,” said Edelson. “Even in our most pristine National Parks, you can’t escape the impact of human activities on the natural environment. A BioBlitz is a chance for young people to see those impacts and learn about the connections between their own actions and the health of ecosystems.”
They found paper wasps, cactus flies and fruit flies. They saw dragonflies and butterflies zooming about. And when they peered into bushes like hackberry and creosote they saw ants, termites and ground beetles living underneath. They even found beetles in an old soda can.
That’s just some of what students of all ages found on Insect Discovery Tours, part of the BioBlitz event in the Arizona desert of Saguaro National Park on October 21, 2011. Check out the slideshow below to see what Insect Discovery Tours were like.
“It scares me when the flies try to land on me,” said one student. But the encounters with insects left most kids more excited than scared. Another student described the experience as “awesome!” It was a sunny and hot day in the desert, the type of weather that drains one’s energy, yet students asked if they could go back to the desert to look for more insects after lunch.
“For me these tours are fun because nature is fascinating and never ceases to delight,” ecologist Dr. Cara Gibson remarked after the event. Dr. Gibson was one of the scientists leading Insect Discovery Tours with students. “It is such a wonderful opportunity to share this. The Sonoran Desert is a very special place with a lot of interesting and extreme organisms,” she added. She was excited to see so much interest from citizen scientists during BioBlitz.