BECOME A CITIZEN SCIENTIST
I am always looking for ways to connect my kids
to nature. The more our kids appreciate nature,
the better chance that they will become active
stewards of the environment. I had read about
joining a citizen scientist project where you volunteer to observe and measure all kinds of things in nature, including birds, bugs and flowers. It occurred to me that this could be a great way to engage my children in looking at the natural world around them.
After a quick Google search on citizen scientists, I discovered numerous projects from which to choose. Here are a few that you might try with your family in these lazy days of summer.
One of my fondest memories from childhood is catching fireflies on a late summer evening. Fireflies seem to be disappearing, and scientists aren’t sure why. The Museum of Science in Boston is teaming up with researchers from Tufts and Fitchburg State College to track the fate of the fireflies, and you can help. Sign up and follow the steps on how to report your findings.
Help scientists track the first leaf, first flower and first fruit of trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses. Print out the downloadable Identification Guides to help you figure out what you are looking for and start sending in your observations.
This is a perfect one for my New York City kids. I don’t give pigeons much thought. But supposedly scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are interested in why pigeons show such a remarkable color variation. Get out your binoculars and start looking.
National Wildlife Federation
Head to the “Wildlife Watch” section. Choose your state and then print out your state’s watch item checklist and you are ready to observe plants and wildlife specific to your region. The National Wildlife Federation collects and uses your valuable data to monitor the health of wildlife and plant species nationwide.
Good luck with some fun and free summertime activities for the family. I will keep you updated on any discoveries we make in our scientific work.
In 2006, Francesca Olivieri co-founded the company sage baby, an online eco-friendly baby store offering everything from organic clothes and skincare to furniture. She also writes a monthly blog for Scenic Hudson as well as contributes articles to Daily Candy Kids, CitiScoop and NRDC’s Simple Steps. She continues to watch her green business grow while seeking to apply her values to her own home and family. Francesca lives in New York City with her husband and three kids, 9, 7 and 4.