Middle school students learn that ordinary people like themselves can make meaningful contributions to science by reviewing examples of citizen science projects on Zooniverse, an interactive website. They then form “engineering teams” to brainstorm projects for their own community and design conceptual interactive websites that could organize and support them.
Every day, millions of ordinary people young and old help advance knowledge in fields as diverse as astronomy and zoology. These “citizen” scientists and engineers record bird sightings and rainfall amounts, classify stars, monitor lead in local tap water, count frogs, and even discover comets! Here’s a sampling of projects. Where will you or your students volunteer?
Some projects spur new legislation. Others inspire community involvement and a lifelong interest in STEM.
Here’s a sampling of projects. Where will you or your students dive in?
Want to engage your students while helping scientists get the “big picture” on what’s happening to bird populations worldwide? Grab some binoculars and join the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which takes place February 17-20, 2017.
One of the oldest and biggest citizen-science projects is the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, held this year from February 17 to 20
In this three-part activity, students in grades 5 to 7 act as agricultural engineers, learning about and testing the effectiveness of a sustainable pest-control technique that uses organic waste and sunlight rather than toxic chemicals to reduce weeds.
The Department of Homeland Security designates October as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Its “Stop, Think, Connect” toolkit includes materials for various audiences, including students and educators, as well as guides to social media, phishing, and other topics.
Teams of middle school students use the engineering design process to design, build, and test a pair of wearable platform or high-heeled shoes, taking into consideration the stress and strain on the wearer’s foot. They activity concludes with a “walk-off” to test the shoe designs and discuss the design process.
In this activity, teams of middle school students express their creativity while learning the fundamentals of engineering design, sustainability, and the basic physics of forces and motion by building a vehicle out of recycled trash that is capable of transporting liquid over rough terrain with as little spillage as possible.
Note: This activity can be scaled for high school or upper elementary students.
Students in grades 6 to 8 investigate the accuracy of sundials and the discrepancy that lies between “real time” and “clock time.” They track the position of the sun during the course of a relatively short period of time as they make a shadow plot, a horizontal sundial, and a diptych sundial. In the process, they learn that time is among the criteria that engineers must factor into their designs.
Students in grades 5 to 7 use Bernoulli’s principle to manipulate air pressure in a series of fun activities so its influence can be seen on the objects around us.