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Resources Citizen science programs: for-teachers

returned the data, and with access to the DNA Analysis Repository, the students found out “where they came from” and where their ancestors travelled. The process was made possible through partnerships that the school has developed, including one with the University of Wollongong, which funded the Geno 2.0 kits the class used. “The students were very committed to the project and excited by this journey, and they organised their own meetings out of class time,” says Moore. “The only problem was the eight-week wait for their results.” In response to a Twitter posting by Birdlife Australia, Moore invited the organisation to come in and talk to his students. A representative of the Birds in Backyards program introduced them to the Aussie Backyard Bird Count and outlined the latest urban bird research. She showed students how to set up a monitoring regime and discussed potential project ideas. l Cynthia Karena is a freelance writer.

Enhancing the curriculum

Citizen science is doing science rather than just learning about it.

Darcy Moore Dapto High School, NSW

As an authentic inquiry-based experience, citizen science can be applied in all of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) areas, says Dr Erin Roger, citizen science coordinator at the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. “Key competencies that have been attributed to citizen science include science and technology, digital competence, sense of initiative and entrepreneurship,” says Roger, whose organisation’s citizen science programs for schools include monitoring water and soil quality, animals and plants. “We’ve been involved in projects where students are able to relate the kind of tests and measurements they are making in the field to what they have learnt in the classroom, for example with pH, salinity and experimental design. “The key is to build citizen science into the curriculum to enhance learning, rather than it being seen as something extra. “We’re open to teachers contacting us if they have ideas for projects.” In partnership with the Questagame app, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage has citizen scientists uploading their photos of birds and mammals using nest boxes around a park.

Year 9s at Dapto High School in NSW have been exploring DNA.

“We’re trying to find which birds and animals are using the different shapes of nest boxes, and the different aspects on the tree they prefer.”

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Educator spring 2016

Educator spring 2016