This National Science Foundation funded project engages middle-school age youth in Citizen Science. Citizen science—or public involvement science—involves community members in collecting data that can be analyzed and interpreted by professional scientists. This project will carry citizen science a step further, enabling youth to design, carry out, and even report on their own research questions under the mentorship of trained adult leaders and science advisors from the University of Minnesota. As citizen science research teams design their own projects, youth will gain a greater understanding and appreciation for science, and will see themselves as scientists.
Going out to the milkweed plot with my students is like going on a treasure hunt. The search is never the same from week to week and there are other inhabitants on the milkweed plants along with the inhabitants on the marsh next to the study area. Once you find monarch eggs, when you return a week later there are small caterpillars and by the next week the caterpillars are gone from the milkweed, hidden nearby as they change from caterpillar to butterfly. Another week and you may see an adult female landing on the milkweed searching for the ideal plant where she will lay her eggs, starting a new generation.
Adult research team member Naturalist, North Chagrin Nature Center Willoughby Hills, OH