YCCS Selecting a Project

Resources for Selecting a Project



Beginning a citizen science project allows students to engage in the “doing” of science, not just the “learning” of science.  Adults who guide this process must attend to and be prepared for the unexpected. By nature, students’ findings will be unknown. There may be left turns along the way as unexpected discoveries are made, but what at first looks like a misstep may then lead to amazing discoveries. These resources will help you find the right citizen science project to meet your needs by guiding you through identifying wanted outcomes as well as constraints.

When selecting a citizen science project to be taught on a school campus, it can be helpful to select a phenomenon that is puzzling enough to pique students’ curiosity, but still allows for collection and production of meaningful data.  Student questions will drive the research, but also allow for sense making and productive inquiry connected to state standards.  When thinking about jump starting a project, the initial phenomenon students observe can be a photo, video or a class experience.  For campus based projects, students can begin by asking what biodiversity is found at school, what is the weather/climate like in their area, etc.  

Through community and citizen science, teachers can engage students in authentic research experiences, which can deepen their understanding of the environment, and their connection to it. These experiences can also provide a framework to ask and investigate questions within students’ communities.

How to find a community and citizen science project that meets your goals?

Educators seeking to use citizen science or community science in their work can draw from a great variety of existing projects. Whether designing your own citizen science project or participating in an existing program, there are many considerations and choices in how to involve youth in the project work to support the science and environmental learning and civic engagement goals.

In our research we have identified important design and implementation features of projects that should be considered when pursuing community and citizen science experiences for youth. We developed this tool as a way for you to explore those features, understand their implications for creating learning opportunities, and see examples of projects that include them in different ways.

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