Lesson Plan: Educators Discover the Wonders of Citizen Science

19370146671_13ddbb053d_kRALEIGH The first cohort of Students Discover Kenan Fellows helped conduct professional development workshops on citizen science the week of June 24, 2015 at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh.

The 12 Kenan Fellows along with staff members and researchers from the Museum and N.C. State’s Science House led the intensive three-day workshop for 37 middle school teachers from 24 counties across the state. The Fellows shared their experiences of working alongside scientists last summer on a variety of citizen science projects including surveying mammal diversity in and around school yards, collecting and analyzing data on shark teeth fossils and face mites, as well as studying how a common backyard weed ─ the dandelion ─ gains beneficial microbes from different soil types.

“I have met scientists who have discovered new mammals, learned about mites on our bodies and a new species of dinosaur,” said Dave Glenn, 2014-15 Students Discover Kenan Fellow. “I have learned new things by practicing animal trapping and exploring the research collections. What an amazing experience to see real-science done, day in, day out.”

The 37 new teachers who participated in the summer workshop toured the labs at the Museum, and learned about the importance of engaging students in real science and the range of citizen science projects that exist. The Fellows demonstrated the citizen science lessons they developed as a result of their internships at the Museum last year. The participants worked closely with the Fellows to observe and practice how best to implement those lessons in their classrooms.

18653684314_e559614aa2_kThe workshops are part of the five-year Student Discover initiative which creates opportunities for teachers and students to participate in real scientific discovery and hopefully, inspire a love of science in educators and children alike. This is the first summer for the teacher workshops. Over the next two years, 80 additional teachers will be able to apply for the seminars.

All photos by Lea Shell of Students Discover