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Teaching Suggestions
Citizen Science
(Back to Slideshow Overview)

Introduction

Citizen science involves everyday people in the process of scientific research and discovery. Using the facts and photos in this slideshow, explore this essential question:

Essential Question
How can citizens scientists contribute to
scientific research and discovery?


Set the Stage for Learning

1. Preview the slideshow. Ask questions to assess prior knowledge:

  • What action words describe what scientists do? (observe, experiment, analyze, etc.)
  • What is citizen science?
  • What do citizen scientists do?
  • How can citizen scientists contribute to scientific research and discovery?
Citizen Science Booklet Cover
2. Preview images in the photo gallery. On large chart paper, post the essential question: How can citizens scientists contribute to scientific research and discovery? Have students make pre-reading predictions based on details they see in the photos.

3. Preview slideshow using the headings handout. Have students predict how the headings may be related to the slideshow title and essential question: How can citizens scientists contribute to scientific research and discovery?

 

Viewing the Slideshow

As a class, read through the pages of the slideshow together. Stop occasionally to spotlight key words and ideas or ask questions. Encourage students to share their own questions sparked by the information and images. Optional printed booklet of slideshow can be copied and assembled for partner or at-home reading.

Revisit for Understanding

1. Mark up the text. Review the definition of citizen science and revisit the essential question: How can citizens scientists contribute to scientific research and discovery? Have students reread the text-only version of the slideshow with a partner, underlining important ideas and circling key words. Challenge them to use the word cards to summarize main ideas and details.

2. Explore observations reported by citizen scientists in each week's robin migration news update. Citizen scientists across North America report their first robin of spring, waves of migrating robins, and the first robin song of spring. They also report first earthworms and other robin observations. All observations are stored in the sightings database and on maps (see links below).

Give each student 3-5 index cards. Challenge them to search the sightings database to find and record interesting details from a variety of reports. Provide time to share what students discovered. Encourage them to reflect on how citizen science expands the possibilities for research.

word cards

robin sightings

Robin Sightings Database

Wrap Up

Assess understanding and encourage reflective thinking with questions like these:

  • Why is it important to accurately identify American robins? (measurable, reliable data for comparison studies)
  • When we report to Journey North, how can we make sure that our observations and data are useful? (importance of detailed, accurate reports for reliable data)
  • Why is it important to keep historical records of long-term data? (trends over time, possibilities for comparison studies)
  • How can citizen science expand the possibilities for research? (quantity of useful data from many locations)
Links to the Robin Maps
These maps show where people have reported robins and earthworms. Patterns emerge as citizen scientists report their observations.
Robin Migration Map: First Robin Robin Migration Map: Waves of Robins Robin migration map: First robins heard singing Earthworm migration map
First See
(map/list)
Waves
(map/list)
Singing
(map/list)
Earthworms
(map/list)

Helpful Handouts
Robins: Observations to Report Robin: Phenology Checklist Robins: Observations to Report Worksheet: Citizen Science Sightings Reports
What to Report Checklist Parent Letter Reading Reports from
Citizen Scientists
Students/Teachers

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