We like real learning. Learning which is practical, hands-on, experiential, with purpose.
Becoming a Citizen Scientist is one way children and young adults can immerse their studies in real science for real purposes. And, the projects integrate into almost every curriculum or can be used to create an independent study. Budding scientists dive in and dig as deep as their interest takes them.
One of my high schooler learners participated in a local bird banding experience with an ornithologist who worked in a local park area. This particular learner is not a science guy. However, when he arrived home he couldn't stop talking about the experience. The opportunity brought his biology unit about birds, alive; and my son took part in real scientific research.
Citizen Science projects can be found online. Simply type "citizen science projects" in a search engine. Here are a few to get started and jump start creative ways to integrate real science into the day.
To enhance the study, think outside the box.
- Interview a scientist in the field of study.
- Visit an aviary, aquarium, or arboretum and talk to the caretakers about what their work entails and what education was needed to work in the field.
- Start a collection--rocks are a favorite--label and categorize.
- Start some porch science.
- Talk with scientists at a local Audubon facility.
And, as always, read a few good books! You never know when a little learner will grab ahold of an older learner's current study. Some of our elementary and middle learners love these hard-to-find science readers.
Over the years, we have enjoyed:
Are You A Grasshopper?, Judy Allen
All about Sharks, Jim Arnosky
Look Out for Turtles, Melvin Burger
Ant Cities, Arthur Dorros
Frogs, Gail Gibbons
Owls, Gail Gibbons
The Honey Makers, Gail Gibbons
Frogs and Polliwogs, Dorothy Childs Hogner
The Life and Times of the Bee, Charles Micucci
The Bird Alphabet Book, Jerry Pallotta
The Frog Alphabet Book, Jerry Pallotta
From Tadpole to Frog, Wendy Pfeffer
The Ant and the Grasshopper, Amy Lowry Poole
Cricketology, Michael Elsohn Ross
One Small Square: Backyard, Donald Silver
Sea Shells, Crabs, and Sea Stars, Christiane Kump Tibbitts
What Lives in A Shell?, Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld
Middle and high school learners may want to read a Living Book or biography to bring a personal connection to their Citizen Scientist project. Some of our favorites have been:
Luther Burbank, Plant Magician, John Y Batey
Louis Pasteur: Founder of Microbiology, Mary June Burton
Ernest Thompson Seton, Naturalist, Shannon Garst
The Story of Louis Pasteur, Alida Sims Malkus
The Story of Marie Curie, Alice Thorne