New Book Presents 15 Citizen-Science Lessons

Citizen science is a great way to involve middle and high school students in real-world study that is fun and exciting.

Too often, students think of science as a static collection of facts rather than an ongoing process of discovery in which they can play a part. Unlike the traditional “cookbook” approach to school laboratory assignments, citizen science offers opportunities for students to engage in authentic investigations. Rather than learning from canned datasets, they can view data they have collected within a broader context of data submitted by others.

In a variety of ways, citizen science creates opportunities for students to connect with the natural world, gain scientific skills, and learn key science concepts related to topics such as life cycles, habitats, adaptation, and interrelationships between living organisms and the environment.

Here at BirdSleuth, we use citizen-science projects such as eBird and Project Feederwatch to help students observe and appreciate birds while also learning to ask questions about the world using the scientific method.

Nancy Trautmann and Jennifer Fee, staff in the Education program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, took action to bring citizen science to more teachers as lead editors for NSTA’s new book Citizen Science: 15 Lessons that Bring Biology to Life.


The goal of this book is to inspire 6th-12th grade educators to get their students involved in citizen science, or “a public collaboration of scientific research.” The book is a good reminder that you don’t have to be an expert to get involved! This book makes citizen science accessible to all educators by helping them lead their students through inquiry-based activities that contribute to ongoing citizen science based research.

The projects featured in the book provide students the opportunity to conduct investigations like a professional scientist while teaching them fundamental concepts and scientific reasoning.  This book not only covers citizen-science projects about birds, but discusses many programs in different fields ranging from jellyfish, ladybugs, monarch butterflies, frogs and amphibians, watersheds, plants, and more. If you are interested in becoming more familiar with citizen science or want to provide your students with meaningful life experiences, then check this book out!



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