(ref: How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate by Lynn Cherry and Gary Braasch)
One of the particularly exciting ways in which we are able to understand the very real effects of climate change on the Earth is through collaborative research involving students of all ages around the world collecting, sharing, and analyzing data alongside scientists. The Internet is making it possible as never before for these citizen scientists to share observations taken in their own backyard with thousands of others doing the same measurements in different global locations. Here are just a few ongoing projects that you can easily get to and even join on the Web.
- Thousand Eyes Project – From 1900 to 1923, Dr. Alexander MacKay set up a program in Nova Scotia for students and teachers to observe and record certain natural history events such as plants flowering, birds returning from wintering grounds, frogs peeping, and weather events over time. This data has now been placed on the Internet and the project continues today.
- Bird Sleuth – Students in 4th through 8th grade can engage in scientific study and real data collection through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s exciting citizen science projects. Data observed and collected is sent directly to research scientists at Cornell.
- Project Budburst – Changes in when flowers bloom gives clues about our changing climate. Project BudBurst engages thousands of people across the United States in making careful observations of first leafing, first flower, and first fruit ripening of a diversity of trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses in their local area.
- Journey North – Migration patterns of monarch butterflies, hummingbirds, whales, and other creatures are collected and tracked from citizen scientists across North America.
- Frogwatch USA and Frogwatch Canada – Around 1,400 volunteers monitor nearly 2,000 sites observing over 79 species of frogs and toads.
- Bonanza Creek Schoolyard Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) – A project in Fairbanks, Alaska where students extract tree cores and examine the tree rings to see how boreal forests are responding to climate change.
- Student Partners Project – Unites students, teachers, and scientists in creating opportunities to experience the life of a polar scientist while doing real research.
How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate shows the science behind the headlines – evidence from flowers, butterflies, birds, frogs, trees, glaciers and much more, gathered by scientists from all over the world, sometimes with assistance from young “citizen-scientists.” And here is what young people, and their families and teachers, can do to learn about climate change and take action. Climate change is a critical and timely topic of deep concern, here told in an age-appropriate manner, with clarity and hope. Kids can make a difference!