Students Actively Involved in Authentic Research through Citizen Science: Coweeta LTER Schoolyard Program
Schoolyards can serve as an extension of the science classroom and provide authentic research opportunities for students. Schoolyard science illustrates that science does not have to take place in a lab or an exotic location – it can take place wherever questions are asked and answers are sought. As extensions of the science classroom, schoolyards are also cost-effective as they are available on demand to students and teachers, and require no access fee or transportation costs. The Coweeta LTER Schoolyard Program has established a variety of citizen science projects with two local schools that provide students with opportunities for deeper understanding of national (National Phenology Network) as well as local (water quality and biodiversity) issues. Data from national citizen projects will be entered online where students can compare/contrast their data with information from all over the globe or nation. Data from local projects will be entered into a database linked with the Coweeta LTER website. Students can then make local comparisons by analyzing the data between the two schools. In addition to helping schools establish their programs, the Coweeta LTER Schoolyard Program provides Study Boxes. These boxes contain equipment and resources to assist teachers with basic core concepts and the execution of observational and experimental approaches associated with authentic schoolyard research.