Citizen Science in the Middle School Classroom
February 14, 2012 3:24 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for great citizen science projects for my students to get involved in!

Hello guys! Rather new Middle School teacher here. I am very big on getting my kids used to doing ACTUAL science rather than just learning facts, and I want my students to get involved in citizen science, which is something I just heard about recently.

I guess it's about turning to the general populace to gather aid in completing the nitty gritty of a lot of the research that scientists do (i.e. data collection, computation, etc.) and have to use most of their time on. This helps scientists, and gets people actively involved in the process of science!

Well my kids are 8th graders, so we're doing physical science: forces and motion, chemistry, states of matter, astronomy, etc. I would like projects that are geared more towards this area. I know a lot of them tend to be life-science based (counting birds and the like).

Even better would be some type of Citizen Science hub that scientists post their projects to in an attempt to garner aid from the public. Is there anything like that yet? (if not, it's a idea to make one)

Thanks guys!
posted by Peregrin5 to Science & Nature (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The Galaxy Zoo might be a fun class project. The project has even resulted in some interesting discoveries.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 3:38 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm more hooked into the life sciences side of things, but I might still be able to think of good connections with a city or at least a state or region.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:43 PM on February 14, 2012

How about reproducing some of the psychological experiments described in Daniel Kalneman's book Thinking Fast and Slow?
posted by jchaw at 3:43 PM on February 14, 2012

Response by poster: @Blasdelb - Bay Area California? Any connections?
posted by Peregrin5 at 3:51 PM on February 14, 2012

I know more about life sciences projects, but for your subjects, how about water quality monitoring? Or classifying stars?
posted by pemberkins at 4:19 PM on February 14, 2012

Oh, and more generally, take a look at SciStarter.
posted by pemberkins at 4:21 PM on February 14, 2012

Lost Ladybug Project!
posted by mudpuppie at 4:38 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

(Oops, just saw request for physical science projects. Sorry. I was excited about ladybugs.)
posted by mudpuppie at 4:39 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Quake-Catcher Network sounds like it might be exactly what you're looking for. You might also try putting in an entry to the NASA Space Settlement Contest

This might be a bit macabre for middle schoolers, but there is the California Roadkill Observation System, who do good work. Maybe something they could do with their parents? You could just send them home with the reporting form. (PDF)
posted by Blasdelb at 4:51 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Exploratorium website has some good ideas.
posted by gingerbeer at 4:58 PM on February 14, 2012

NASA missions have an Education and Public Outreach (EPO) component that might give you some ideas. Here is some resources for teachers from the EPO page for my mission, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. You can use Einstein at Home to help our scientists reduce their data.
posted by Rob Rockets at 5:40 PM on February 14, 2012

if water monitoring counts as non-life science, then definitely check in with your local watershed/friends of lakes and river groups. maybe this is in your area? watershed groups near me (Madison, WI) are non-profits and need all the help they can get.
posted by nanhey at 8:50 PM on February 14, 2012

Response by poster: @Mudpuppie, don't be sorry! I can forward the other types of citizen science activities to my teacher friends!
posted by Peregrin5 at 9:41 PM on February 14, 2012

The Zooniverse is the hub for projects in the Galaxy Zoo family.
posted by edd at 4:22 AM on February 15, 2012

2nding SciStarter! And I know Scientific American features citizen science projects on their site, here.
posted by NikitaNikita at 11:39 AM on February 15, 2012

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