Archive for the ‘Science Education Standards’ Category

Upbeat, collaborative, and focused: Educators at SXSWedu reflect on the value and future of citizen science in education.

By March 28th, 2017 at 8:25 pm | Comment

Who really benefits from citizen science? How can citizen science support STEM education?  How do we bring citizen science to new audiences? How can we leverage new technologies to expand student participation in citizen science projects?

Attendees explore tools together.

These were some of the questions we set out to discuss at the Citizen Science Meet-up at SXSWedu. SXSWedu is an annual conference that attracts thought-leaders from the worlds of education, technology, policy, and the media. This year, 7,000 participants from 38 countries—including bestselling authors, TED-talking professors, and quirky teachers—came together to discuss the future of teaching and learning. At SciStarter and the California Academy of Sciences, we believe that citizen science is an integral part of that future, so we joined forces to bring our ideas to the participants of SXSWedu.

We designed the Meet-up as an interactive experience with roundtable conversations and resource share-outs. In one corner of the room, participants explored a playground of citizen science projects and toolkits, including tinkering with arthropod observation tools, exploring the biodiversity app iNaturalist, and discovering diverse DIY projects featured on SciStarter. In another corner, at the Citizen Science Platter, the participants shared their insights about the role of citizen science in education today. Here’s what people were saying:

“We are upbeat and enthusiastic about the power of citizen science.” Citizen science is a powerful tool that can be used to tap into the natural curiosity of students and empower students to drive their own learning, both inside and outside the classroom. Moreover, citizen science has a low barrier to entry. “Everyone has a phone,” one attendee said, referring to the proliferation of elegant apps, such as iNaturalist and GLOBE Observer, that democratize participation in the scientific process.

SciStarter and the California Academy of Sciences display citizen science projects and tools at SXSWedu

“We need more collaborative work in the field.” We need best practices to guide collaborations between educators, scientists, and research on learning. For example, scientists can be more transparent about how the data collected by citizen scientists will be used. We also need to continue to develop ways citizen scientists can connect with each other to share experiences, learn from each other, and create a sense of community in citizen science. In addition to using Web apps, we might also ask citizen scientists to create portfolios of their work so that they can showcase their achievements and get feedback from students peers and other citizen scientists. For example, the new SciStarter dashboard is a digital portfolio for people to track, earn credit, and receive recognition for their contributions across projects. There is clearly an opportunity to expand this to serve the needs of classrooms.

“We need design that is more focused on who we are trying to reach.” As advocates for citizen science, we can make educators’ jobs easier by building more scaffolding around our designs. For example, as citizen science practitioners develop projects that are fit for schools, they might consider the limits of space at many schools. An added challenge is determining how citizen science can most effectively enhance STEM learning

The Meet-up created a renewed sense of the excitement about using citizen science as a learning and engagement tool for STEM education. There are many smart, creative, passionate people who are designing and evaluating citizen science experiences both in and out of the classroom. Our power comes from the communities we support, and we encourage program designers to not only collaborate across organizations, but also empower their audiences with additional resources. If you don’t know where to start, here are some ideas:

  1. The California Academy of Sciences Citizen Science Toolkit for Educators provides step by step instructions for integrating citizen science projects into classroom curricula or afterschool programming.
  2. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology BridSleuth program provides connections  between the Next Generation Science Standards and Citizen Science.
  3. To get started on citizen science right away, check out SciStarter’s amazing repository of citizen science projects. Many projects have been rated, reviewed and aligned to standards by educators. You can search for projects that have teaching materials or search by appropriate grade-level. You and your students can set up  personalized dashboard to help track involvement and interest in projects and help you discover personalized recommendations.

Together, we make the commitment to help connect citizen science more closely with  educators, students, and, of course, anyone who wants to contribute to our understanding of the world. The future of citizen science is bright, and we welcome it with open arms.


For more information or to chat further please feel free to reach out!

Katie Levedahl (KLevedahl@calacademy.org)

Katie drives the strategic design, implementation, and wide-scale expansion of science education resources that transform informal science learning. As the Director of Informal learning with the California Academy of Sciences her work includes expansion of offerings to serve thousands of people through the Academy’s youth leadership programs, the founding and scaling of the Science Action Club network, and a lead role with several regional STEM education networks.

 

Catherine Hoffman (catherine@scistarter.com)

Catherine bring citizen science to new audiences through SciStarter. As the Managing Director of SciStarter she oversees strategic partnerships with formal and informal education groups, coordinates product development within SciStarter, and grows citizen science through festivals and events throughout the country.

 

 

Po Bhattacharyya

Po designs curriculum and learning tools in the education technology space. He is passionate about science education and committed to developing educational products that are engaging, market-disruptive, and accessible. At his current role as Instructional Design Lead at the California Academy of Sciences, he builds curriculum for youth and educators in the Science Action Club network.

 

Why it’s OK to fail: empowering students to discover

By November 17th, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Comment

By Lea Shell

Middle school students are presented with a bucket of what, at first glance, looks like dirt. They pull handfuls onto their lab bench and carefully begin to sift.

“I found a shark tooth!” one student exclaims,  prompting the other students to peer more intently at their own piles. Before long, they see that the 10-million-year-old sediment that they’re sifting through—rejected from a nearby phosphate mine in North Carolina—contains the fossil remains of sharks. Some students go through several handfuls before finding a tooth, some just “get lucky,” but they’re all reaching into the bucket to see what they can discover. Read the rest of this entry »

Back To School With Citizen Science: A Conversation with Ben Graves

By September 14th, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Comment

In the next two posts, as part of our SciStarter in the Classroom collection, guest contributor Ben Graves will share his personal experiences and advice for using citizen science in the classroom. Graves is a fellow with the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, which supports a small cohort of early-career teachers across the United States with intensive professional development. He teaches AP Environmental Science and freshman environmental science at Delta High School, a rural school in western Colorado. Before moving to Colorado, Ben was deeply involved in environmental education and citizen science initiatives with youth in the national parks, including leading volunteer trail crews across Alaska and teaching inquiry-based science workshops for students and teachers at NatureBridge, an organization that provides environmental science programming in the national parks.

I spend lot of my summer outdoors—in my garden, running and biking in the mountains, learning new approaches to teaching outdoor and experiential science. As the end of the summer nears, I think about how to get my science students outside. Science doesn’t need to be contained inside a classroom, and I have found that citizen science projects are a great way to get students outdoors and keep them engaged throughout the school year.
Read the rest of this entry »

Enlisting youth citizen scientists to combat Zika

By September 1st, 2016 at 10:49 am | Comment

Going out of your way to attract mosquitoes seems like the last thing anyone would want to do, but that is exactly what the national Invasive Mosquito Project is hoping volunteers will do in the name of public health.

Managed through the United States Department of Agriculture, the Invasive Mosquito Project aims to track the spread of invasive container-breeding mosquitoes – those whose females lay eggs in the standing water that collects in containers such as vases, rain barrels, and even pool or boat covers. The introduction of many non-native species often coincides with the introduction of new pathogens, and mosquitoes are notorious for playing host to a number of these, including the viruses responsible for West Nile, dengue and most recently in the news, Zika.

Read the rest of this entry »

Playing It Safe Online: NOVA Cybersecurity Lab Trains You to Carefully Navigate the Web

By March 2nd, 2015 at 10:10 pm | Comment

cyberpromo-facebook header

With our ever-increasing connectivity and reliance on the internet, cybersecurity is a growing concern. Despite all the cautionary warnings about cyber safety, individuals, companies and government agencies still fall victim to attack.

So what does it take to stay safe? NOVA, in partnership with computer scientists and cybersecurity experts, created the Cybersecurity Lab, a digital platform designed to teach people about cyber threats and how to improve their own cybersecurity. Read the rest of this entry »