Citizen Science

Citizen Science

*NPS Photo by Ivie Metzen

Citizen science projects combine useful observation or data collection with an opportunity for students to learn more about scientific principles, problems, and processes as well as helping them better understand our environment and how to protect it.

Citizen science projects involve students in data collection, presentation, and involvement on a local, state, national, and even global level. Data collection can be wildlife watching, water testing, soil testing, plant monitoring, and many others. There are many citizen science projects that classrooms, and schools can choose to become involved in.

There are many projects out there – how do you choose? First, consider the age of the children in your class or program. Remember to match the age of the children to the skill level of the project. Follow the areas of interest of the children. Come up with several options and let them choose. Or ask them what they would like to contribute to and then find a project that matches.

Here are few things to consider:

  • Is the project long or short term?
  • Is the project local or national?
  • Is there training required?
  • What data is collected & how?
  • How is the data collected presented to others?
  • Are student materials and instructional resources available/provided?
  • What types of tools and/or support are available?

Citizen Science Project Opportunities in Iowa

Volunteer wildlife surveys are an example of citizen science projects that students can be involved in. Citizen science projects combine useful observation or data collection with an opportunity for students to learn more about scientific principles, problems, and processes as well as helping them better understand our environment and how to protect it.

Wildlife survey projects involve students in data collection, presentation, and involvement on a local, state, national, and even global level. There are many wildlife surveys that classrooms, and schools can choose to become involved in. One such opportunity is the frog and toad call surveys.

To find out more about volunteer wildlife monitoring or to sign up for a frog and toad route contact the state coordinator, Stephanie Shepherd at 515-432-2823 x 102, vwmp@dnr.iowa.gov.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources: Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring

One example of wildlife surveys you can get involved with is the Frog & Toad Call Survey. Every year during the early spring (as the air and water temperatures start to rise) frogs and toads, roused from their winter slumber, start a harmonious call that echoes through the valleys and fields of Iowa. Western chorus frogs are usually the first of the pint-sized amphibians to start their spring time refrain but they are soon followed by spring peepers, leopard frogs and many more!

Male frogs and toads call during the spring to attract mates. By listening and recording the species heard and the location biologists can gain important information about the health of a population and about the water quality. Amphibians have thin permeable skin and so are sensitive to pollutants in the water. There is concern for amphibian species worldwide as they have declined globally due to pollution.

 

Looking for activities that include citizen science and field investigations?

Project WILD

Beautiful Basics – identify what animals need to survive and the importance of water (clean water) to all living things

Learning to Look, Looking to See – practicing observation skills which are important to have when participating in a scientific study

Time Lapse – Learn the changes that take place to a ecosystem over time. They learn how to observe and track the changes to aquatic habitats during monitoring period.

Wild Words – students record their outdoor experiences, and experiences participating in IOWATER in a nature journal

Aquatic WILD

Dragonfly Pondrelates land use and zoning/planning to water quality

The Glass Menagerie – shows the effects of nutrient overload on aquatic habitats

Living Research: Aquatic Heroes & Heroines – research past and present people who have made contributions to the conservation and preservation of aquatic resources

Something’s Fishy Here – explore possible avenues of action after reading the provided story

To Dam or Not to Damstudents explore the different views and concerns of individuals related to the complex issue of dams on waterways

Water Canariesshows how aquatic life is effected by water quality parameters

Watered Down History – students investigate the history of a local waterway or watershed

Watershed – students study their local watershed and learn the connection between land and water quality

What’s in the Water? – pollution sources and impacts

Where Does Water Run? – helps students understand rainfall amounts, runoff, and the effects on water quality

 

Cross-reference to these units:

WILD – Iowa’s Wildlife Resource Base, Iowa’s Wildlife Habitats, Wildlife Management, and People and Wildlife

AW – Iowa’s Waters, Aquatic Life, The World in a Pond, and People, Land, and Water