Which animals live where is one of the most basic questions in ECOLOGY, critical to understanding the relations of organisms to one another and to their surroundings. But collecting this type of data for mammals is difficult because most species are so shy that they are hard to see. Instead of direct observations, scientists use motion-sensitive camera traps to record what animals walk by when no one is around. Now you and you students can join them by running camera traps to discover for yourself which animals are using your neighborhood as their habitat.
The eMammal research project (a collaboration between the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, NC State University, and the Smithsonian) is helping citizen scientists survey the animals in their region with camera traps. Volunteers record the GPS location for each camera, use eMammal software to note what species is in each photograph, and then share the results with scientists online. These results can be used to count how many species use an area, compare how common they are, and even note what time of day or night they are active. Using data collected by students, and analyzed together with scientists, we will test hypotheses that more developed areas have fewer animals of fewer species, and that larger, more predatory species will be the most sensitive to development.
Fellows will help co-create, implement and refine camera trap modules aligned with the NC Middle School curriculum standards. These will include resources for immersing students in the data collection, underlying science concepts and the statistical analysis of the data. In an effort to engage the public, you will also organize community events in your district to educate parents and community members. Finally, you will work with researchers and educators from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Science House to implement professional development designed to help other teachers learn to engage their students in citizen science projects. These Fellows will conduct a three-day workshop for larger groups of teachers during the summer following their one-year traditional fellowship. Beyond these requirements, the Wake County Kenan Fellows selected for this project will work with the district to develop a model, intensive, 12-day Summer Bridge and Saturday Academy program for at-risk rising 9th graders that incorporates the ‘Citizen Science’ module.
Dr. Roland Kays, NC State University and NC Museum of Natural Sciences
National Science Foundation Math Science Partnership