Citizen science for children? Why not! It's not just for adults. It's a great way to engage children in scientific research and environmental monitoring and to enable them to feel part of something bigger.
The benefits of Citizen Science for Children
Citizen science has many benefits for children, including:
Encouraging curiosity: Citizen science can spark children's curiosity about the world around them and inspire them to learn more about science and the environment.
Fostering a sense of purpose: Children who participate in citizen science projects can feel like they are making a difference in the world by contributing to important scientific research.
Improving scientific literacy: Citizen science projects can help children develop a deeper understanding of scientific concepts and processes, as well as learn new skills such as data collection and analysis.
Enhancing outdoor experiences: Many citizen science projects involve spending time outdoors and exploring natural environments, which can help children develop a greater appreciation for nature.
Promoting environmental stewardship: Citizen science projects can help children develop a sense of responsibility and commitment to protecting the environment.
Building community connections: Citizen science projects can bring children together with other like-minded individuals and organizations, building connections and fostering a sense of community.
Providing opportunities for experiential learning: Citizen science projects can provide hands-on learning opportunities for children, allowing them to apply scientific concepts and skills in real-world settings.
Overall, citizen science for children can be a valuable and rewarding experience, offering benefits that can last a lifetime.
Some Citizen Science Projects that are suitable for Children
GLOBE Observer is a project that collects data on clouds, land cover, and mosquito habitats. Children can participate by taking measurements with a smartphone and submitting their observations online.
Nature's Notebook is a project that collects data on plant and animal phenology (the timing of seasonal events). Children can participate by observing and recording when plants bud, leaf out, and flower.
eBird is a project that collects data on bird sightings from around the world. Children can participate by keeping a list of birds they see and submitting their observations online.
Monarch Larva Monitoring Project: The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project collects data on the population and health of monarch butterflies. Children can participate by searching for monarch caterpillars and submitting their observations online.
Project Budburst: Project Budburst is a project that collects data on the timing of plant life cycle events such as leafing out, flowering, and fruiting. Children can participate by observing and recording these events.
iNaturalist: iNaturalist is a platform that allows users to upload photos of plants and animals they observe in the wild. Children can use the app to identify species and contribute to scientific research.
Great Sunflower Project: The Great Sunflower Project collects data on bee populations. Children can participate by planting sunflowers and observing the bees that visit them.
FrogWatch USA: FrogWatch USA is a project that collects data on frog and toad populations. Children can participate by listening for frog calls and reporting their observations.
Bat Detective: Bat Detective is a project that collects data on bat populations. Children can participate by listening to bat calls and identifying the species they hear.
NASA GLOBE Clouds: NASA GLOBE Clouds collects data on cloud cover and types. Children can participate by observing and recording cloud cover and submitting their observations online.
How to present Citizen Science projects to children
When presenting citizen science to children, it is important to make the activities engagingand accessible. Here are some tips:
Start with a clear explanation: Begin by explaining what citizen science is and how it involves ordinary people in scientific research. Use examples that are relatable to children, such as tracking bird migrations or monitoring plant growth.
Choose projects that are age-appropriate: Select citizen science projects that are suitable for the age group you are working with. Projects that involve simple data collection, such as counting birds or observing plant growth, are a good starting point for younger children. Older children may be interested in more complex projects that involve data analysis and interpretation.
Make it fun: Citizen science should be enjoyable and engaging for children. Consider incorporating games, art activities, or outdoor adventures into the project to make it more appealing.
Provide clear instructions: Make sure that the children understand the project and what is expected of them. Provide clear instructions and any necessary training or guidance to ensure that the data collected is accurate.
Use technology: Many citizen science projects use technology to collect and share data. Consider using apps or online tools that children are familiar with to make the project more interactive.
Celebrate accomplishments: Celebrate the children's accomplishments and contributions to the project. Share their data and observations with the group and discuss how it contributes to scientific research.
Encourage reflection: Ask the children to reflect on their experience and what they have learned. Ask questions such as "What did you enjoy about the project?" and "What did you learn about science and the environment?"
Overall, presenting citizen science to children can be a rewarding and fun experience. By making the activities engaging and accessible, you can inspire a love of science and the environment that can last a lifetime.