My wife and I recently attended a teacher-preview of Flight of the Butterflies, the IMAX 3D movie that shows how a scientist used citizen scientists to answer the question of where Monarch Butterflies migrate to in Mexico each year. It chronicles Dr. Urquhart’s lifelong search to find where the Monarchs go each migration using citizen scientists. Before the showing, we participated in a workshop that highlighted other ways to get students involved as citizen scientists.
I keep throwing that phrase ‘citizen scientist’ around, but what does it mean? Basically just anyone who helps gather data on some scientific phenomena. In this case, people helped tag the Monarchs, so when the Monarchs made their migration, and someone found them, they could contact the researchers, who in turn could map them. One of the other resources the workshop showcased was Project Noah (http://www.projectnoah.org/). Project Noah:
is a tool to explore and document wildlife and a platform to harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere.
So again, they ask for us to participate in gathering data about nature. On the site, you can search through all the ‘organisms’ that people have found or you can look at the map to see where things have been observed. You get involved by creating an account then going out and taking pictures of the wildlife you find in your community and uploading that data to the website. Pretty easy, and then you can see other data in your neighborhood or pretty much anywhere else in the world. Think of how powerful this could be for a science classroom or social studies classroom. Or even a regular math or Language Arts classroom. So much could come from this site–you could pretty much run your classroom around this site. Think about going to field trips and expanding it even more. Real life homework assignments as well. True integration of need, since others will use and analyze this data as well.
If and when you’re mobile, they put out Android and iOS apps so you can document it further. I see lots of use in a school, your digital field journal of the environment. Pretty powerful little site and showing your students how they can show meaning in the world.