Citizen science is a great way for children to get inspired by getting involved in providing data for real scientific projects giving some great benefits to both the children and the organisations involved.
The benefits for children can be far reaching and include spending more time outdoors, a better understanding of the environment they live in and an enthusiasm for protecting it. For schools partnering with scientific organisations can also provide some great opportunities for application of scientific principles, access to engaging resources and a great way to encourage parents and families to get involved in children’s learning.
Here are 5 great citizen science projects that children and schools can get involved in.
Big Garden Birdwatch
The Big Schools’ Birdwatch is probably the most well-known citizen science project for primary aged children. It is organised by the RSPB and takes place in January and February each year. To take part schools just need to arrange for children to count the birds in their school grounds for an hour. The RSPB website features an interactive bird identifier, resources and ideas for teachers and free outreach visits.
Big Butterfly Count
The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide survey and citizen science project, run by the charity Butterfly Conservation, that takes place in July and August each year. It aims to help us assess the health of our environment using butterflies which react very quickly to quickly to changes in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. To get involved children simply need to count the total number of butterflies seen within 15 minutes. Results can be uploaded online or by using an app. You can find out more on the Big Butterfly Count website.
OPAL Biodiversity Survey
OPAL promotes the importance of understanding, recording and conserving biodiversity which is an important indicator of habitat health for humans and wildlife. OPAL are involved in a number of Citizenship Science projects. The Biodiversity Survey aims to uncover the range of wildlife in our hedges. Hedges are an important habitat for many species providing food and shelter for invertebrates, birds and small mammals. The survey involves assessing hedges based on how they look, sources of food, invertebrates and other wildlife using the hedge. Full details are available from the website including a downloadable survey pack, identification guides and biodiversity survey recording sheets are available from the Opal Explore Nature Website.
Earthworm Watch is a collaboration between Earthwatch Institute (Europe) and the Natural History Museum in London in association with the Earthworm society of Britain. It is really simple to get involved in the study by completing a survey which takes under an hour. It involves digging two small holes to count earthworms and measure soil properties before submitting the data online. Instruction booklets, a video, project packs and charts are all available from the Earthworm Watch website.
The Decoding Nature Citizenship Science project offers an opportunity for school groups of key stage 2+ to take part in residential field trips in Dorset to take part in research led by scientists from the Natural History Museum. It aims to use DNA bar coding to identify species and understand species relationships. The activities involved vary but could include species and habitat recording, collecting plants to create museum quality specimens and extracting samples for DNA sequencing. Further information including costs can be obtained from the Natural History Museum website.
Would your children enjoy an of these citizen science projects?
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