See Related: Science Citizen Science
  1. W. Midden
  2. http://www.bgsu.edu/arts-and-sciences/chemistry/faculty/robert-midden.html
  3. Assoc. Vice Provost
  4. iEvolve with STEM
  5. http://ievolvewithstem.org
  6. Bowling Green State University
  1. Judith Steiner
  2. Project Manager
  3. iEvolve with STEM
  4. http://ievolvewithstem.org
  5. Bowling Green State University
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: W. Midden

    W. Midden

    Lead Presenter
    May 12, 2019 | 05:42 p.m.

    This video is about an NSF-funded grant project that involved the large-scale integration of student participation in citizen science as a central aspect of classroom instruction in grades 3-8 in two medium-size school district over a 5-year period. The intent was to examine how this affected student motivation, engagement, and learning. Those aspects of the project have been addressed somewhat in previous videos. This video focuses on how the impact of this project has been sustained and expanded in the original school districts, and in others.

    We hope that you will contribute comments and questions about many aspects of this project. We are still analyzing the research data so are not yet able to report about our findings regarding the research questions. But we are happy to discuss other aspects of the project such as the types of citizen science projects that were involved, the teacher professional development program, teacher perceptions of the impact on students, and important considerations for incorporating citizen science into K-12 classroom instruction.

  • Icon for: Susan Jo Russell

    Susan Jo Russell

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 01:01 p.m.

    Hi,

    Thanks for this video.  It's so exciting to see these students engaged not only in finding out about their environment but working to understand and affect local environmental issues.  I'm curious about whether there have been any grade-level differences, both in your initial projects and in the ripple effects you report here.  For example, has it been more difficult to find authentic projects for the youngest grade 3 students? Are there difficulties in finding investigations in which they can both learn about science and engage with local issues? On the other hand, do you find more obstacles to implementing these investigations in upper grades where pressures on academic time and test prep may be greater? Or are there other differences across grade levels you've encountered?

    Thanks so much. 

     
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    W. Midden
  • Icon for: Judith Steiner

    Judith Steiner

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 07:44 a.m.

    Dear Susan,

    Regarding differences among grade levels in implementing citizen science research, we did find some, but also found that the type of project, as well as alignment with grade level state science standards were also big factors in project success.  In the elementary grade levels, because CSR projects are inherently cross-disciplinary, teachers were more open and accustomed to incorporating multi-dimensional projects into their curriculum.  They also had greater schedule flexibility than middle school classrooms, so that if data collection had to move to a different part of the day, due to weather or other conditions, being more self-contained, elementary classrooms could more easily accommodate the change.  Middle school logistics of data collection were more difficult to plan and more difficult for teachers to make the cross-disciplinary connections, since schedules at that level are more departmentalized.  As far as the type of project suitable for each grade level, we found that teachers were not willing to devote class time for data collection and analysis, unless it was very closely aligned with state science learning standards.  It was not enough for "process skills" to be aligned, but content skills also needed to be a good match.  For example, our water projects did not sit well with teachers, except for those grade levels where learning standards explicitly stated connections to concepts like the hydrological cycle and flow of energy.  Studying butterflies in the pollinator garden resonated well with our lower elementary teachers, where life cycles were part of their science learning standards.  But equally important to alignment was the ability of students to collect enough data in an efficient manner and with enough frequency so that an inordinate amount of class time was not spent.  Teachers needed the time spent on CSR-related work to be proportional in such a way that they could cover all the state's learning standards during the course of the school year.  So those projects that were either on or near school grounds were more logistically feasible for classrooms to implement.

     
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  • Icon for: Susan Jo Russell

    Susan Jo Russell

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 05:28 p.m.

    Thanks for this thorough response! I'm particularly interested in your comment about how aligning with process skills was not enough.  I've been doing a lot of work supporting teachers to integrate math practices into their core math content in the elementary grades, and this seems parallel.  There's also a push for "STEM" connections to the math curriculum; while we used to have a lot of investigations with data in the math curriculum we developed, work with real data has been essentially stripped from the elementary standards, and we're thinking about how the demand for "STEM" might help us connect back to some of that data work.  I'm really glad to see what you're accomplishing with these investigations.

  • Icon for: Judith Steiner

    Judith Steiner

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 06:47 p.m.

    Dear Susan,

    The CSR projects were great for providing concrete ways to apply math skills!  The times where we experienced the most difficulty with integrating math standards were with our middle school math teachers.  The districts with whom we worked had recently adopted new math curriculum, which was quite sequential, so when CSR projects needed to incorporate math skills out of the sequence of the curriculum, teachers struggled more.  We ended up making sure to incorporate math teachers, as well as teachers from other content areas, into curriculum development times/days.  That way, teachers had time to re-organize and could think about how the curriculum could be modified in a way so that all content was covered over the course of the year and in a way that was workable for students to build skills over time.  At times, we could move science curriculum timing, but that was a bit problematic, since CSR project data collection was tied to seasonal and weather-related factors.  Our elementary folks really took the cross-curricular elements of projects, including math content, and ran with it.

  • Icon for: Denise Schultz

    Denise Schultz

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 11:24 p.m.

    Hi!  I agree with Susan Jo that it is so exciting to see students engaged in their own local evironmental issues and creating their own research opportunities.  This is not the first time I have heard about citizen science projects and agree with your statement "This may only be the beginning of the "blossoming" of CSR as a major means of not only increasing student engagement in learning, and deepening their mastery of state science standards, but also markedly improving student understanding and appreciation of the true nature of science."  I guess I'm most curious about the advice you might give to a district that hasn't yet begun implementing anything like this yet.  What are some of the first steps?  How might we find partnerships or funding for citizen science projects like this?

     
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  • Icon for: Judith Steiner

    Judith Steiner

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 12:33 p.m.

    Dear Denise,

    One thing I would recommend for getting started is to find a few teachers who are eager to go the next level in science inquiry.  Then identify a local issue, which could possibly be addressed through a citizen science research project and that would align with grade level state science learning standards.  The next step would be to find a support scientist or organization, which is key for several reasons, which could be the topic of another post.  There are many organizations that have an education outreach requirement or component, so I would suggest reaching out to local zoos, museums, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Metroparks, environmental protection groups and groups whose activities may depend on a healthy environment.  One of our projects even enlisted the help of the local Ladies Yacht Club!  As far as funding, if you can partner with an organization in some way and if you can keep costs to a minimum, often local funders are willing to chip in--especially when kids are the ones to present proposals and ask for help.  Who can resist third graders, who want to save butterflies?!

     
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    Denise Schultz
    W. Midden
  • Icon for: W. Midden

    W. Midden

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 01:22 p.m.

    As Judy has said, after you have identified a project and found good professional support from a local organization or agency (by the way, you might also consider any colleges or universities in your area in addition to the excellent list that Judy provided), you might ask your Chamber of Commerce if they might be able to help you find some companies that may be interested in helping support the efforts if you're not aware of any companies that might be interested and haven't developed any partnerships. Sometimes utilities and some large national companies have small grant programs for schools. Companies have various reasons for supporting such activities. Some may want the visibility in the community for supporting worthy causes. Some may want to contribute to workforce development, especially if they are struggling to meet workforce needs. Some may simply consider it part of their philanthropic mission.

  • Icon for: Jan Heiderer

    Jan Heiderer

    Communications Coordinator, GLOBE Implementation Office
    May 14, 2019 | 01:53 a.m.

    I grew up in Ohio.. sorry to hear that the once ubiquitous Monarch butterfly is now on the endangered list. Your video was packed with interesting information about doing studies relevant in your community. The fishing line collection tubes... what a good way to both save wildlife and develop awareness of the value of tackling issues that may seem small at first, but which in fact have far-reaching consequences. I enjoyed your video. Glad to here you are incorporating GLOBE activities (www.globe.gov) in your project! 

     
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  • Icon for: Judith Steiner

    Judith Steiner

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 12:38 p.m.

    Thanks so much, Jan.  With our butterfly projects, we were actually pretty amazed that once we installed pollinator gardens, that so many pollinators came.  It was pretty much an "If you build it, they will come" kind of process.  

    Regarding GLOBE while our scientists and IHE folks really like the GLOBE programs, initially our teachers has much difficulty with data entry and using the site as a resource.  That was nearly 6 years ago and the site has become much more teacher friendly.  One thing we found was that the quicker data entry could be made for teachers and students, the more data entry was done.  So having apps on teacher and student phones was a huge step forward for everyone, not only for GLOBE, but for our other projects, as well.

     

     
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  • Icon for: Beth Sappe

    Beth Sappe

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 09:48 p.m.

    Hello,

    Thanks for sharing the video. It is always great to see students engaged in learning through thier enviroment. As you mentioned in an earlier post, you are finding it most challenging to integrate science and math in the middle grades. I also find this difficult in some of the programs that I run. I am curious how you were able to align the elementary math with the science lessons? Can you share a few specific alignments to the grade level standards? 

    Thanks, Beth 

     
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  • Icon for: Judith Steiner

    Judith Steiner

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 05:45 p.m.

    Dear Beth,

    For our 3rd graders, who did pollinator studies, there were lots of tie-ins with our state's math standards, including measuring--especially temperature and measuring perimeter, as well as measuring plant growth and the size of some of the pollinators.  There were also lots of opportunities to graph various kinds of data, create diagrams and do mapping of the areas studied.  For 4th graders, who did soil studies and soil infiltration monitoring, in addition to those standards for 3rd, students did weighing of soil samples, measured area, perimeter and volume of the soil and water samples.  Fractions and ratios of soil to water were also incorporated.  For 5th graders, who did water quality work, all of these concepts were continued, adding in decimals and more complex mapping of data sites.  Of course, all grade levels utilized the basic operations, with 3rd grade really benefiting from concrete and real-world application of multiplication.  As we moved into middle school, we found that all of the skills noted so far needed to continue to be reinforced, so on-going opportunities to practice with real world examples helped.  Did you want more specific standards for middle school?  (I know this is a long post!)

     
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  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Researcher
    May 15, 2019 | 08:57 a.m.

    Nice video.  Citizen Science is really exploding — and not a moment too soon.  Even though citizen scientists are active in many fields, there is such an urgent need for environmental and ecological research at local and regional scales, that as many hands as possible are needed and welcome.  For those who are new to this, follow up your conversation here by searching on "citizen science" in this year's videohall- as well as 2018's and 2017's as well!

         In our work with the Climate Lab (a collaboration of Manomet and TERC) we found that one major challenge (which had ramifications for data quality and the students' experience as well) was teachers who were excited about the idea, but had never done field work before, much less overseen students doing it.  I'd love to hear more (or have a pointer to a writeup) about your teacher PD work.

     
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  • Icon for: W. Midden

    W. Midden

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 10:06 a.m.

    Very few of the teachers in this project had any prior experience with field work or authentic science research. We anticipated that learning how to lead their students in gathering, analyzing, and reporting valid scientific data would be challenging. So, we designed a three-year PD program.

    Each year of the PD program began with an intense summer institute. The first summer institute was 8 days, the second 6 days, and the third 4 days. We decreased the duration of these with the hope that would promote teacher persistence and continued enthusiastic participation. Each summer institute addressed the primary theme, skills, and outcomes targeted for that year.

    During the academic year, there were monthly meetings with all of the teachers that addressed specific topics to further develop teacher understanding, ability, and confidence. Between these meetings of teachers with our project staff, teachers were organized in Professional Learning Communities and those met once or twice between the formal monthly meetings to compare and share challenges and successes.

    In the first year, we focused on teachers learning how to lead hands-on, minds-on inquiry with well established curriculum materials such as FOSS kits. We did this based on the idea that learning how to conduct effective inquiry would be a good foundation for implementing high quality citizen science research activities.

    In the second year, teachers worked with the scientists who were leading their project (each grade level had a different project) to learn how to conduct all of the citizen science activities, themselves, and how to guide their students in doing so, as well. Some of the projects used GLOBE protocols and those teachers completed GLOBE certification with certified GLOBE trainers.

    In the third year, teachers reflected on successes and challenges with the CS activities and also learned about the use of formative assessment as a key element of action research for the continuous improvement of their instruction practice, and developed strategies for dissemination of their findings to local, regional, and national communities. One of the culminating activities each year was a symposium for students to present their research to the local community. We also encouraged other means of dissemination.

    We used formative assessment of how well the citizen science activities were being conducted to adjust PD activities to address those topics that we felt were most in need of further development. In particular, we found that many teachers still lacked a solid understanding of the true nature of scientific inquiry and scientific research. So, some PD activities were designed to deepen that understanding and how it applied to the citizen science research activities and how they reported that to their communities and to professional scientists.

    I am a chemistry faculty member who has conducted graduate-level scientific research for more than 30 years and published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles about that research. I was somewhat surprised at the level of understanding that many of the teachers in our project had about scientific research. So, in agreement with your finding, Brian, we also found that a major challenge for this means of instruction is helping teachers develop a solid comprehension of the nature of scientifically valid research and how to help their students master that.

    To be honest, I'm not sure that our three-year PD program fully achieved that with all teachers. But we learned a lot about this and have a strong appreciation of the challenge that this represents and the importance of directly addressing the critical elements of scientific research including the collection of accurate, valid, and reliable scientific data and how research needs to be reported for its validation by the scientific community. We strongly recommend that any project that involves teacher and student participation in citizen science ensures that there are effective activities and experiences that target these outcomes, and assessments to verify that these outcomes are achieved.

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Researcher
    May 20, 2019 | 08:45 a.m.

    Thanks for this very full answer! I have a follow-on both on my question, and Susan Jo Russell's about the interaction between projects and student grade levels — To what extent is data quality for your projects?  What I mean is, some projects are very valuable educationally, but not scientifically.  Some projects are valuable scientifically, but take lots of training and management.  A few projects are within reach of the students (and inexperienced or highly constrained teachers), and also can provide data of use to scientists.  In our Climate Lab project, this is a tight rope we are very familiar with!!!

  • Icon for: W. Midden

    W. Midden

    Lead Presenter
    May 20, 2019 | 12:40 p.m.

    Brian-

    Thanks very much for posing this important question. I believe that the answer depends on the goals of each particular project and may even vary within a project at different times and for different stages.

    Our project’s hypothesis was that student motivation and engagement will be strongest when they perceive that they are learning by doing work that will contribute in meaningful ways to matters that are of real value to the local, regional, and larger communities. This includes the scientific community. Thus, we intended for the students to be collecting, analyzing, and reporting data and their findings in ways that professional scientists consider to be valid and appropriate. We also intended that students would learn the true nature of scientific research and inquiry and that includes learning about scientific research practices that are used to achieve and certify validity and accuracy. 

    One of GLOBE’s strengths is that a great deal of time, effort, and expertise was invested in developing protocols that students can use to collect scientifically valid and accurate data reliably and consistently when given sufficient guidance and development. It most cases I believe that very careful consideration must be given to the selection and design of projects and protocols so that they can be used well by students of the age and development level that are intended to participate. This will likely benefit from iterative testing and optimization. There are many types of scientific investigations that are not well suited for citizen science. The selection of the research question, the types of data to be collected, and the types of protocols to be used is a critical aspect of designing projects that can serve this pedagogy well.

    Can students learn well in activities that are not producing real scientific research results and findings? Absolutely. An important aspect of the design of a given project that involves student conduct of inquiry is how important the outcomes are that might only be achieved if students conduct scientifically valid work. Are there advantages and perhaps even certain learning outcomes that can be better achieved when students engage in scientifically valid and meaningful research? I think further investigation is warranted to learn more about this. Our project was designed to address this but is only one contribution to answering that question. And we are still analyzing our data to learn as much as we can about this from the substantial investment that was made.

  • May 17, 2019 | 12:17 p.m.

    Great project Bob. I remember when you started talking about the project probably 8 or more years ago. It is great to see such positive outcomes from it. Also, thanks for the shout out to GLOBE and Mission EARTH.

     
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  • Icon for: W. Midden

    W. Midden

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 02:19 p.m.

    GLOBE, in particular, was VERY valuable in this project. Having well established, rigorous scientific data collection protocols for a variety of research measurements that were well suited for use by students was a huge advantage for us. The training available through GLOBE for teachers was also very helpful. Achieving the goals of this project would have been notably more difficult without the resources that GLOBE can provide. It's scope, history, and record of achievement also lent a high level of credibility to the concept of student participation in citizen science. I am very grateful for all that GLOBE contributed to iEvolve.

    And thank you, Kevin, for the outstanding work that you have done in GLOBE over the years. Your leadership has helped to advance participation in Citizen Science for our region. I am very grateful for that, as well.

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