Winter course: Teaching with citizen science

Students at work on Hudson Valley Birds: The Art of Nature, a project at La Grange MS, Arlington, developed by Kathryn Paulsen, who is now retired. 

Birds, toads, and butterflies. Milfoil, water celery, and cattail. The Hudson Valley is full of flora and fauna that lend themselves to citizen science.

How can these opportunities become teachable moments for younger students?

We invite teachers and other educators to find out. Join us this winter to explore existing projects and test out ideas of your own with science specialist Jennifer Reid and THV.

Register now.

Teaching with Citizen Science Projects is open to all —  pre-k, environmental and park educators, and the public, as well as ES teachers. The course will begin with an in-person session, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, February 24, in the Wallace Visitor and Education Center at the Home of FDR and Presidential Library in Hyde Park.

The remainder of the class will be online and asynchronous, i.e., you’ll log in weekly at your convenience to get assignments, see what your colleagues are thinking, and share your insights. Participants will have until April 12 to complete the readings and all activities. To be eligible for 15 CTLE hours, participants must complete an activity or lesson plan, post it to the class website, and allow THV to share it more broadly. There is a $30 fee for the class, and we need at least 15 registrants to make it happen.

What’s involved?

The main text is Citizen Scientists: Be Part of Scientific Discovery from your Own Backyard by Loree Griffin Burns with wonderful photos by Ellen Harasimowicz (2012, 80 pp, Square Fish/Macmillan).

Order the book from the author’s website ($15 paper, $20 hardcover). Order paperbacks at local bookstores or online for $10-15.

Working through the book — it’s pitched for 8-12 year olds — we’ll explore butterflies, birds, and frogs and then dip into a project Jenn developed on water celery.

Facilitator,  Jennifer Reid, teaches at Gidney Avenue High Tech Magnet (GAMS), a preK-5 school in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District.  Last year she worked with all grades as a science specialist. She also managed the science museum including an outdoor courtyard, gardens, a pond, and greenhouses. Jenn earned a BS in biology at SUNY New Paltz and an MA in special education and K-6 teaching at Stony Brook University Graduate School.

Jenn coordinates science nights and expos at GAMS and this fall she involved students in A Day in the Life of the Hudson River, the annual program organized by NYS DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. In addition to the water celery project mentioned above, she has blogged about studying schoolyard plants. Jenn previously taught grades 4, 5, 7, and 10 at Woodstock Day School. If you have questions about the class, email her here.


Read more about citizen science

Find round ups of citizen science in the Hudson Valley here and here, or check out these 2016 blog posts for specific examples of citizen science.

Photo courtesy of

Keep Kids Engaged with Firefly Watch — Becky Faller uses a citizen science project to teach her Greene County fourth graders about the scientific process.

Learning to Look Around — for Martha Schultz of Dutchess BOCES, citizen science is a tool for helping students with multiple disabilities and traumatic brain injuries embrace the world around them.

Project FeederWatch —  Louise Raimondo, a naturalist at Ithaca Community Childcare Center, aims to introduce ES students to bird identification and involve them in citizen science.

Doing what we can on a big night — Orange County science teacher Renee LaMonica describes participating in the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation’s Woodland Pool Project.