Welcome to ON(line)SC's Virtual Learning!

“Greetings, Citizen...Science!”

Good morning naturalist heroes!

Yesterday we learned about being nature superheroes through The Lorax.  Hopefully by now, you want to get out and make an obvious difference in the world, or even in your hometown.  Superheroes are known for jumping into the action, where they can see what’s going on first-hand.  Now’s our chance to focus on the citizens in our own community!


Today, we will become real-life scientists, helping people around the world!  What are the first five words you think of when you see the word “scientist”?  There are no wrong answers!


For many years, everyday people like you and I were not able to participate in scientific work or research.  That was work that could only be done by professional scientists.  But today, thanks to modern technology, anyone can participate in scientific work even if you didn’t go to college to be a scientist.  Here at ONSC, everyone from toddlers to grandparents have been able to get involved in real-life science.  And we’re going to share some ways that you can get involved at home.

You don’t need fancy tools or a college degree to get involved in citizen science!


This idea of having normal people help scientists with their work and research is called citizen science.  Citizen science not only allows people like you and me to assist with collecting scientific information, it also helps scientists with their research as well.  The more eyes and ears open and searching, the more likely we are to discover something amazing!


There are many different ways to get involved in citizen science projects.  There are even ways to participate in citizen science while we are all at home.  Whatever gets you excited in nature, there is a project you can get involved in!  For example, if you’re like us and have been enjoying watching all the new birds visiting your yard now that spring is here, then one of the best citizen science projects for you is eBird (https://ebird.org/home).  eBird was started by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as a way for people to add information about birds they see out in their own communities, no matter where on Earth they live!.

This bird was seen here at ONSC.  Any ideas what it might be?  Citizen scientists can learn what they’re seeing while helping scientists study the life story of a species.


It is a fun way to keep track of what birds you see and where.  Not only can you add birds you see to eBird, but if you can recognize a bird by its song, that counts too.  It also has a way to explore the birds that have been seen in your country, state, or county.  It’s like a personalized field guide!  You can either use the eBird website directly at ebird.org or you can download the eBird app to your phone (with your parents’ permission!). 


Another great citizen science project you can use at home is iNaturalist.  This citizen science project was started by several college students at the University of California in Berkeley and today it is used by over 1 million people worldwide.  While eBird focuses on observing and recording species of birds you see or hear, iNaturalist allows you to upload observations of any living thing (minus humans, pets, and livestock).  For younger scientists, they have a version called Seek that allows you to upload your discoveries as well.


Here are some screenshots of using the iNaturalist site and application.  The pictures you upload directly help scientists around the world!


One of the best parts of iNaturalist is that it’s okay if you don’t know what the living thing you are seeing is.  You can add a picture of what you observed and other people on the site can help you identify what you saw.  You can start using iNaturalist either at their website inaturalist.org or you can download the iNaturalist app onto iPhone or Android.


Do you want to focus on something else?  Maybe butterflies are your favorite animal and you want to find out how far a monarch butterfly migrates, or you’re really interested in checking out how streetlights in your hometown are affecting the nocturnal animals.  Maybe you’re the tech person that would prefer to do your science from the comfort of your computer desk.  SciStarter (https://scistarter.org/finder) has thousands of citizen science projects that you can get involved in, and they are sortable by location, interest, and age level!

Do you like salamanders?  There’s a citizen science project for that!


Now let’s become citizen scientists ourselves.  Find a citizen science project like eBird or iNaturalist that you find interesting and get out there to do some citizen science!  Important: make sure you get your parents permission before downloading anything onto your device.  When you choose your project, keep track of what you notice every day, and make some observations yourself.  Feel free to notice, wonder, and be inspired by the science that goes on in your own community!


Here at ONSC, we participate in several citizen science projects, but the one we focus on the most with students is our Creek Critters project.  When kids come out here, they identify these tiny creatures and the data is sent to scientists so that they can learn how healthy our creek is!  To learn a little more about our Benthic Macroinvertebrate creek critters, watch this video!

Citizen science is a great way not only to help provide information for scientists to use in their research, it’s a great way to get to meet other nature superheroes as well.  Remember, whether we are keeping ourselves inside or out in nature, you are not alone as a nature superhero.  There are many other nature superheroes all over the world working together to help protect the earth.      


Well scientists and superheroes, thank you for joining us for our third day of our nature superhero week.  Tomorrow, we’ll bring it all together and think about what it truly means to be a steward of our planet!  We’ll also be playing our favorite game, Family Food!


Also, be sure to tune in for our Find Out Friday’s and get your questions answered by one of our ONSC superhero staff.  So send those questions in to our Facebook page or at Socialmedia@onsc.us.  Happy exploring!  

Other Parent Resources

If you enjoyed watching today's lessons and would like to purchase one of our ONSC Virtual Merchandise Packages, which includes an ONSC Program T-shirt and field journal, click to go to our Online Store


During this time, we only have limited amount of merchandise available for purchase. 


Merchandise orders will ship First Class USPS every two weeks on the following dates:

April 30, May 14 & May 28


The Ozark Natural Science Center is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) residential field science education center located in Northwest Arkansas.

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1905 Madison 1305
Huntsville, AR  72740