Monday, June 23, 2014

Birds and Mastodons

Citizen Science Projects for Kids

Last week, I had dinner with two of my mentors from grad school, one of whom - Sharman Apt Russell - is coming out with a book on citizen science in the fall. The book is called Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World. The book is available October 1st, so I haven't read it yet, but because I've read several of Sharman's other books (Hunger, An Obsession with Butterflies, Anatomy of a Rose, Songs of the Fluteplayer, etc.) I'm fairly certain I will love it.

Citizen science is when amateurs participate in scientific research. As part of her research, Sharman participated in several citizen science projects, including one about tiger beetles, hence the subtitle of her book.

When I googled "citizen science" with interest in bringing a project into my public school 4th grade classroom, way too many results popped up. Where does one start?

I asked Sharman for ideas about projects I could do in the fall, and here are the two she suggested...

Her daughter Maria is a third grade teacher, and Sharman adapted the Mastodon Matrix project for use in Maria's classroom. For the mastodon project, citizen scientists sift through a kilo of dirt from a mastodon excavation to find and bag "shells, bones, hair, pieces of plants, and rocks."

The second project Sharman suggested was Celebrate Urban Birds which involves watching an area for birds for 10 minutes and submitting data to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Sounds like a fun Nature Study project!

*The above photo is from the Paleontological Research Institute (Mastodon Matrix).

No comments:

Post a Comment