CCS Citizen Science on the Farm

Overview

Citizen Science on the Farm

Citizen Science on the Farm is a one-year professional development course that trains teachers to use agriculture-based community and citizen science in their school gardens or on their school campuses. While California produces over one-third of the vegetables and two-thirds of the fruits and nuts for the United States, more and more children grow up in urban and suburban environments without opportunities to explore agriculture, the environment, or related careers. 

Outdoor spaces, like school gardens, can help fill this gap by providing experiential learning opportunities and access to nature. Yet, without adequate programming and support, it can be challenging for teachers to incorporate school gardens into their teaching. Through community and citizen science, teachers can engage students in authentic agricultural research experiences, which can deepen their understanding of agriculture and the environment. These experiences can also provide a framework to ask and investigate questions within students’ communities. 

Together, the UC Davis Center for Community and Citizen Science and Student Farm are developing a teacher training program and supporting curriculum for teachers to apply youth-focused community and citizen science (YCCS) to their school gardens and campuses. Selected elementary school teachers will attend a two-day workshop to learn how to use YCCS as an instructional method, receive a supporting curriculum, and partake in hands-on YCCS activities. Followup visits will help teachers implement projects within their schools and prepare teachers and classes for a spring field trip to the Student Farm. Finally, an end-of-the-year meeting will provide teachers time to reflect on what they learned and provide feedback.

In their schools, teachers will lead students in identifying research questions, designing quality control procedures, collecting data, conducting data analyses, and presenting findings to a variety of audiences. By using real science practices, students can take ownership of their work and apply the investigative process to their own lives and communities. Later, as part of the field trip to the UC Davis Student Farm, students will collect data for the San Francisco State University’s Great Sunflower Project and Cornell University’s Lost Ladybug Project. Scientists can then use the collected data for environmental monitoring and research. 

Overall, the Citizen Science on the Farm project will provide teachers with the training and materials they need to connect students with their school’s garden or green spaces through youth-focused community and citizen science. 

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