One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching science to school students is the ability to use citizen science projects and programs to engender real learning and validity to the learning experience.
When students are asked to collect, consider and submit data or utilise a data set to make conclusions, the experience should offer greater opportunities for aspects of learning such as student engagement, deep learning and higher order thinking aspects to suggest a few. Here is a great read from KQED.
I know that when I work with real data or submit data I gain a greater sense of satisfaction through knowing that I am engaged with real science; I am observing and recording, collecting and analyzing, hypothesizing and concluding.
A new an exciting Australian project is TeachWild, monitoring marine debris in our waters and especially focusing on small plastics that are so inviting and fatal to seabirds and marine life. A great ABC Catalyst article can be found here.
I have written about Birds in Backyards in Australia and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Lab in Ithaca, NY previously and the innovative programs they both have on offer. Having lived on the coast for many years I have always maintained an interest in marine and environmental education.
With data sets available that explore great white shark movements, penguin counts and recently the ability to contribute to whale shark population and movement counts in Western Australia diverse teaching opportunities are available.
The next time you are thinking about teaching science, consider citizen science and how you as an educator can contribute not only to a student’s deep knowledge and learning but also through encouraging them to make a real difference in the world.