CCS Science and Environmental Learning

Science and Environmental Learning


Current Projects


The Learning and Environmental science Agency Research Network for Citizen Science (LEARN CitSci) Project is a four-year international collaborative research project that aims to understand how young people develop Environmental Science Agency through their participation in Citizen Science programs at Natural History Museums. Principal Investigators from the USA and UK include Citizen Science practitioners at The Natural History Museum Los Angeles County in Los Angeles, The Natural History Museum in London, and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, and Educational Researchers from UC Davis, Open University, and the University of Oxford. Read More


How can citizen science facilitate environmental education, and what does current research tell us about this relationship? Our Center hopes to answer these questions through participation in eeWorks, a broader initiative led by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). Research groups such as ours are conducting comprehensive literature reviews on various environmental education topics. At CCS, we are investigating and synthesizing the research evidence available documenting citizen science as a pathway for environmental education. Additionally, we hope to identify future research directions to best support citizen science as a strategy for environmental education. Read More

Citizen Science on the Farm

Citizen Science on the Farm is a one-year professional development course to train elementary school teachers to use agriculture-based community and citizen science in their school gardens or campus green spaces. Together, the Center for Community and Citizen Science and the UC Davis Student Farm are providing teachers the support they need to leverage outdoor spaces on their campuses for engaging students in learning about sustainable agriculture and the environment. The project will provide teacher training, a complementary curriculum, and supporting resources to foster agricultural literacy, engagement, and action in students’ lives and communities. Read more

Our Forests

The Youth Community Action and Science in Our Forests (“Our Forests”) project will train and support elementary school teachers as they work with their students, local environmental scientists and community organizations to study local forests and fire risk in Nevada County, California. We aim to create a replicable model of science standards-aligned, school-based community and citizen science that can be used in classrooms beyond Nevada County after the project ends. Our Forests is a partnership of the Center for Community and Citizen Science, the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools and the Sierra Streams Institute, supported by a $2.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Read more

GEAR UP Partnership

Our research practice partnership with GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) will serve students across Glenn, Colusa, and Tehama counties. Together with the GEAR UP Rural Valley Partnership team, we are exploring ways that citizen science professional development for educators, and summer programming for students, can improve STEM learning and college readiness. Read more

Resources for Youth-Focused Community and Citizen Science

Since 2013, we have been studying YCCS in a variety of contexts, and convening project designers, teachers, scientists and others involved in this work to generate and share knowledge of when and how YCCS works best for learning, identity, and agency. The YCCS website contains research briefs, case studies, and descriptions of key practices for youth and educators, and example of what those look like in different contexts. These resources serve as the foundation for our work with educators, and ongoing research on science learning. Read More

Past Projects

Examining Engagement and Science Identity through Participation

How can we broaden participation in science across diverse communities? Our researchers are collaborating with Cornell Lab of Ornithology to investigate how and why people from different backgrounds engage with different forms of citizen science, and what they get out of that experience. Funded by the National Science Foundation, this research will help thousands of ISE practitioners and program developers to design projects that achieve the greatest impacts for both new and existing audiences.

Blog entry Written by Peggy Harte, MEd

Using Environmental Literacy as the Through Line, All Standards All Students: A Focus on Equity and Access

Environmental Literacy, Environmental Principles & Concepts, Next Generation Science Standards, Incremental Infusion

Student participating in classroom activity

Using Environmental Literacy as the Through Line, All Standards All Students: A Focus on Equity and Access


Environmental Literacy, Environmental Principles & Concepts, Next Generation Science Standards, Incremental Infusion


Global Collabinar: Building Career Pathways & Networks for Underrepresented STEM Students

June 11th, 2019

We hope you can join us online or in-person next week for another CCS Collabinar—

Building Career Pathways and Networks for Underrepresented STEM Students

Tuesday, June 11th
From 1:00pm-3:00pm PST

At this Collabinar, we will be hearing from Melissa B. Wilson, who will share her experiences working in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Our discussion will focus on ways to engage underrepresented students in STEM careers.


Collabinar: SciStarter Education

May 17th, 2019

We have enjoyed continuing our Collabinar series this spring! On Friday, May 17th we had the fascinating opportunity to learn more about—

Sci Starter Education: a new, pilot, Ed-Tech platform to integrate facilitator-led citizen science in schools through district- and school-wide approaches

Many may have heard of SciStarter, which helps people find, join, and contribute to citizen science through its database of thousands of citizen science projects taking place all over the world. In this event, we learned about a new SciStarter initiative that points to possibilities for scaled up integration of citizen science in the classroom.


Engaging Educators in the City Nature Challenge

The Center collaborated with the California Naturalist Program, educators in the Woodland Joint Unified School District, and a variety of local nature centers and reserves to encourage participation in the Sacramento City Nature Challenge. Despite being its first year participating in this global competition (as one of more than 160 cities worldwide), over 500 people in the Sacramento region logged 9,798 observations of over 1,200 unique species using iNaturalist.


3-Day Institute prepares educators for real science in the garden with students.

We are still glowing from our three days of shared learning, planning, and camaraderie with local partners, teachers, after-school educators, school garden coordinators. With thanks to our partner, Yolo Farm to Fork, who developed the article below, we offer some initial insights from this workshop, with more to come in the near future! 


Reflecting on our Woolman Center workshop

Named after a mythical land from a novela when the Spanish first arrived, California was said to be paradise on Earth. However, times have changed since the Spanish first laid their eyes on the place we now call home. Social activists have spoken openly about the disasters of environmental change and many, from the top of California’s government to grassroots organizations are beginning to create much more systematic and widespread awareness and change with initiatives.


New Paper: A Framework for Teachers to Design and Facilitate Citizen Science Activities

A new paper by recently graduated Emily Harris and the Center’s Faculty Director, Heidi Ballard, provides a framework for educators to design and implement citizen science projects in the classroom to facilitate meaningful student learning. This publication adds an important component to our suite of materials aimed at helping educators use Youth-focused Community and Citizen Science in their work.

Post Heidi Ballard Ryan Meyer

Youth-focused Community and Citizen Science


This blog post, authored by Ryan Meyer, Heidi Ballard, and Lila Higgins, originally appeared on the Blue Sky Funders Forum blog.

When do experiences with science lead young people to create change in their lives, landscapes, and communities? Consider this reflection from Rachel Anne Arias, a 12-year-old living in La Crescenta in Southern California:


What works in YCCS?

What works in YCCS?

We asked our partners – expert researchers and practitioners — what it looks like when youth participate in community and citizen science. The resulting video speaks to the tremendous potential of youth-focused community and citizen science (YCCS) in the classroom, in the field, in a science museum, or anywhere in between.

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