Citizen Science – Great Backyard Bird Count


Watching birds, feeding birds, and learning about birds is a great way to get students excited! These activities can carry over to family time as well. Feeder birds (song birds) can be attracted to your school through habitat improvement and the addition of bird feeding and watering stations. Citizen science activities like the Great Backyard … Read more

Help gather information for bird conservation

girl with binoculars

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is an annual event sponsored by Audubon. All Christmas Bird Counts are conducted between December 14 to January 5, inclusive dates, each season. This will be the 120th Christmas Bird Count! This longest running Citizen Science survey in the world provides critical data on population trends. It is organized into … Read more

Water we eating?

channel catfish

Do you like to go fishing and eat fish? If so, then you harvest food from a local aquatic resource. In Iowa. Anglers harvest millions of fish each year for consumptive use. Species harvested include bluegill, bass, crappie, and catfish. Other aquatic animals such as frogs and crayfish are also harvested. Iowa is also home … Read more

Signs of Fall

oak tree

Lead students on a walk through a wooded area, schoolyard, local park, or neighborhood sidewalk to look for signs of fall and investigate why leaves of deciduous trees change color. Point out the differences between deciduous and evergreen trees. Ask students to look for signs that indicate winter is approaching and have them record their … Read more

The Very Last Passenger Pigeon

passenger pigeon

“There will always be pigeons in books and museums, but these are effigies and images, dead to all hardships and all delights. They know no urge of the seasons, they feel no kiss of sun, no lash of wind and weather.” Aldo Leopold The very last passenger pigeon, Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo in … Read more

Seasonal Visits to a Special Outdoor Place

girl with binoculars

Find a special place outdoors where you and your students can observe nature throughout the school year. Your county conservation board naturalist is a great resource to help you find the perfect spot and that spot doesn’t need to be far from school. Visit this same place each season and observe the changes. Let each … Read more

Things to do in your backyard!

interesting tree

Share these ideas with your own children, the neighborhood group, your childcare provider, and think about adapting some of these ideas for the schoolyard playground and classroom! Build a Fort Build your own outdoor hideout! Supplies Large sticks Old sheets or blankets String or rope Imagination How-to The sky is the limit! Create a fort … Read more

Fun summer outdoor experiences

prairie grasses

There are many simple ways to get kids outdoors in Iowa this summer. Use this as a checklist to guide your outdoor explorations. Summer 2019 is time to celebrate the finest county park system in the country! 99 county parks of the 2,024 county parks – one in each of Iowa’s 99 Counties are featured. … Read more

Become a wildlife scientist

testing o2 levels

Wildlife scientists study wildlife to learn how they live and interact with the environment. These scientists may focus on one wildlife species or a group of species during their studies. They record observations made with their senses and other tools. Help your students learn how to record observations with a science notebook. Help your kids … Read more

Drawing on Nature


Much of our understanding of science comes from interpreting visual images. The images that accompany scientific writing can enhance our knowledge of a subject and can add more precision to our perception. Drawings that accompany field notes offer researchers several paths which to interpret their experiences. Incorporating drawing into research improves one’s observation skills. Take … Read more

Iowa Invertebrates


More than 97% of the animal species on Earth are invertebrates. Invertebrates are small animals that do not have backbones. There are many types of invertebrates, from fluid-filled jellyfish, and squishy earthworms to hard shelled insects like beetles, and eight-legged arachnids. This fascinating and diverse group of animals spans the globe – invertebrates live on … Read more

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 … Read more