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Five Citizen Science Projects to Do With Your Students
posted by: Melissa | September 21, 2017, 06:33 PM   

In this day and age of crowdsourcing, students have more opportunities to become engaged with authentic scientific experimentation than ever before. Citizen science uses the power of the internet to connect scientists with a vast community of science enthusiasts who conduct experiments and gather data on a massive scale.

These endeavors have the ability to help students connect with material they might otherwise find uninteresting because of the authentic nature of the experience and the real, solid applications of the data they collect. Students are no longer reading about the scientific method in textbooks, they are participating in the actual development of new scientific data. If you’re interested in incorporating citizen science into your classroom, we have five suggestions below:

Journey North is a project that is especially suited to elementary students. This project seeks to gather more information on the migratory pattern of animals, by having students observe and report sightings. Their page is aimed at student citizen scientists with instructional activities for teachers to use in the classroom and an app that can be downloaded onto your smartphone to report sightings.

Project FeederWatch is similar to Journey North in its focus on animals and it is also appropriate for elementary students. It asks participants to set up a bird feeder and conduct counts of the number and type of birds that visit the feeder between the months of November and April. Its snazzy website lets students explore the data shared by other participants and enter their own data.

World Water Monitoring Day seeks to collect data on water quality. Participating students use test kits to analyze water samples from a local body of water. Comparisons of data teach students about ecosystems and the effect that humans have on them. The website includes information on ordering kits and lesson plans for teachers to use in the classroom.

Galaxy Zoo is a wonderful way to get students interested in space. In this project, students examine images taken by the Hubble Telescope and classify them according to shape. Students get to both participate in scientific space research and see unique and beautiful images of the galaxy. The website has the ability for classes to work on classifying images together and provides lesson plans for classroom use.

FoldIt advertises itself as having users “solve puzzles for science” and is perfect for advanced students. Recently, scientists have become more and more aware of the importance that folding plays in nature.  Students explore this with the organic molecule of protein, where in a game called FoldIt they are given a protein molecule in the form of a puzzle and are challenged to fold it into its most efficient form. New puzzles are released regularly and students can compete against other users adding an extra level of engagement.

Do you use citizen science in your classroom?

Share below!

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