Birds of a Feather: The Power of Citizen Science

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One of the most effective ways to teach pupils about science is to have them actually do the work of a scientist. How can a science teacher do this? It’s simple. Help learners find and join a network of volunteers, who, like the students, have very little or no specific scientific training. Despite deficits in factual information, volunteers may still perform and manage extremely important research-related tasks such as observation, measurement or computation. For example, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology follows an excellent collection of projects that need volunteers. CLO’s site, dubbed Citizen Science, tracks projects that encourage and allow young researchers to do the work of scientists. Such projects create powerful relationships between the general public and professional scientists, resulting in some of the world’s largest research teams. The projects highlighted at CLO make it possible for students and concerned citizens to contribute valuable information to ongoing, worldwide studies. Give it a try. It’s an excellent, easy way to integrate technology in a meaningful way and give students a chance to be a scientist.

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