October 1, 2020
Like so many people around the world, your program staff may be looking for ways to make the most of social distancing. Citizen science has enjoyed a tremendous uptick as people turn to the outdoors for many more types of experiences. Citizen science is an exciting addition to STEM programming, but where should you begin? Review the basics of Y4Y’s Citizen Science course to make the right project choices and fit them into your program schedule. Armed with a list of criteria that matter to you, you can make a SMART perusal of reputable online resources.
- Consider training your staff on Assessing Citizen Science to empower them to seek out high-quality activities.
- The Y4Y Citizen Science Experience Planner will ensure your projects aren’t shortening your day! Use this tool to be mindful of your time and financial resources.
- What skills are you targeting in your citizen science participation? Download and customize the Y4Y STEM Process Skills Checklist to keep you focused.
- Y4Y’s Reflection Questions for Staff tool is a quick and effective way to measure the outcomes of a project.
As time permits, you and your staff can mine other Y4Y citizen science tools to make the most of your program’s offerings.
Not sure where to start your project hunt? In 2016, Y4Y compiled an annotated list of citizen science resources, and many are still active. Here are some other projects that are hot today:
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology notes that through its eBird webpage, “your sightings contribute to hundreds of conservation decisions and peer-reviewed papers, thousands of student projects and help inform bird research worldwide.”
- NestWatch, also hosted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “is a nationwide nest-monitoring program designed to track status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds. Participating in NestWatch is easy and anyone can do it.”
- SciStarter is a clearinghouse of “science we can do together.” To locate the perfect project, visit its Project Finder, enter a word or phrase in the Search box, and include your location, the kinds of environments available to you, and the age group of your scientists.
- National Geographic’s iNaturalist webpage “helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over a million scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature! What’s more, by recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature.”
Remember, citizen science does more than expose your students to STEM activities. Young people get to experience firsthand what it’s like to “act locally and think globally” as they contribute to national or international projects to help achieve a greater goal. Citizen science reinforces the notion that we are citizens not just of our city or town, but of the planet.