Noelle Kramer hadn’t planned to delve into citizen science, but her students were rather persuasive. As her third and fourth graders in Dixon, California read aloud from Time for Kids, something sparked their interest. “An article on a citizen science program called The Lost Ladybug Project asked kids to become ladybug spotters in order to help scientists find a native species that had nearly disappeared,” says Noelle.
Right Side Box:
The Tale of the Lost Ladybugs
Once the state insect of New York, the nine-spotted ladybug population diminished until it all but disappeared from the radar. In fact when some youngsters spotted one of them near their Virginia home in 2006, it was the first of that species seen in the Eastern United States in 14 years! John Losey and other scientists at Cornell University figured that if lots of eyes scoured the country, they might help find more of them along with some other native lady beetles that were also disappearing. And so, the Lost Ladybug Project was born. But it wasn’t just about documenting locals. Scientists – and many homeowners – noticed that populations of other ladybugs were exploding. This included the orangey Asian lady beetle, which was introduced in this country to control pests. Have these imports excluded the native species from their habitats? This is one of the questions that scientists are exploring, thanks to a growing team of citizen scientists.
Twine from the bark of the basswood. A delicious snack from the stalk of a cattail. Red dye from the bloodroot. Lessons like these and others based on Ojibwe traditional ecological knowledge are found in Kinomaage (The Earth Shows Us the Way), a two-week intensive summer course offered by the Northern Michigan University Center for Native American Studies.
Every spring, approximately 600 children visit the bird-banding site at Fort Morgan, Alabama, a peninsula between Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, to learn how specially trained and permitted volunteers capture hummingbirds and apply teensy aluminum bands to their legs to gather data that can help researchers understand their life cycle. Some of the children even get to hold a hummer in their hands before it flies away.
Mount Makalu in the background. Banana tree in the foreground. Photo: TMIAfter weeks of planning and preparation, your expedition is finally going to begin. First you land in Kathmandu, Nepal. You've planned to spend two days here, gathering together the rest of your gear and paying for a climbing permit. It's a bit disappointing that you are unable to see the mountains from the city. On some days, people can. On other days, like today, they are hidden behind air pollution.
The first step in rain garden design is scouting an appropriate site. This activity challenges students to explore one aspect of this process: soil drainage assessment. (For full background information about the purpose of rain gardens and basic design principles, please read Rain Gardens to the Rescue.)
Studying Purple Loosestrife Helps Students Identify Non-Native Species
"When my third graders asked a local naturalist to help them identify wild plants growing on our school grounds, we never imagined their query would lead to a long-term environmental action project," reports Minneapolis, MN, teacher Sherri Rogers.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it's the perfect time to examine the relationship of the traditional harvest to wellbeing, and how kitchen gardens can be a catalyst for reversing the health crisis facing youth in our society.
If birds grace your schoolyard or neighborhood, invite students to spend some time each day or week observing them. If you don't yet have bird feeders set up, consider enticing feathered friends to visit by spreading seeds on the ground or in a shallow pan. What do students notice and talk about?
Kids Gardening and the National Gardening Association actively work with schools and communities across the country to provide educational resources and build gardens to promote health, wellness, and sustainability.