Journey North & Citizen Science

One of the most effective ways to teach pupils about science is go beyond simply reading about science and have learners actually do the work of scientists by immersing them in citizen science. January is a great month to help students take on the role of citizen scientists. How? Simply point pupils to the Journey North site (a free, web-based program sponsored by Annenberg Learner). Journey North participants do what scientists do. They do science. Learners make field observations, collect data, and contribute valuable information to ongoing, worldwide studies.

Journey North

Related topics:

  • Another great citizen science project to involve students in is the Great Backyard Bird Count. The GBBC gets underway beginning February (15th to 18th, to be exact).
  • If the GBBC is of interest to you, be sure to visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and sign up for a bird-watching calendar that was created for the 2012-13 season of Project FeederWatch, a winter-long survey of birds at feeders across the U.S. and Canada. Be sure to drop by the NestCams portion of the site, too.
  • Consider visiting the Citizen Science Alliance site. The CSA, describes itself as “a collaboration of scientists, software developers and educators who collectively develop, manage and utilise internet-based citizen science projects in order to further science itself, and the public understanding of both science and of the scientific process.”

Birds of a Feather: The Power of Citizen Science


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.