Citizen Science: Collecting Real-Life Data is one of the two articles published by Green Teacher in its April 2016 edition that is freely available to read. We are highlighting it here to draw your attention both to the article, and to Green Teacher itself, as this is a journal that NAEE finds to be consistently informative and interesting.
The article begins …
Have you ever wondered how you could get your students involved in local scientific research, and what opportunities exist for students to take part in collecting data and learning more about the world around them?
Citizen science, or scientific research completed by amateur scientists (i.e., the general public), provides ripe opportunities to engage students in learning scientific content and how it applies to their local environment. Not only does citizen science provide wonderful opportunities to contribute to scientific research, it also engages students in work aligned with educational standards and goals, making it ideal for both in-school and out-of-school learning.
One key characteristic of citizen science is the value of context. Citizen science is completed locally, often in the participants’ neighborhood, schoolyard, or local parks. Researchers[i] note that a sense of “place” is huge for urban youth, and that opportunities to engage in citizen science allow students to make connections to the community and the history of place. Another critical aspect of citizen science is that it provides a humanistic view of science for children[ii], enabling them to work with animals (a passion for many children), something that can often be lacking in traditional lab-based sciences.