As an educator, I believe that iNaturalist has tremendous potential as an educational resource in that it provides real world, easily accessible, high interest data that teachers are looking for. Projects are like iNat’s educational superpower since they make the data that much more useful and usable by filtering the data.
Do you have or know of a project that you think might be useful to an educator? Please share below with a short description of what the project is about and why it might be useful
For example, the project Aquatic Macroinvertebrates of North and South America* is an umbrella project featuring aquatic nymphs and larvae. Looking at macroinvertebrates is a popular field trip activity and this project gives the students (and teachers!) opportunities to look at lots of organisms to hone their ID skills before going into the field .
Also, if you are an educator, please feel free to share how you use projects so folks who make the observations that populate those projects can do so with more intentionality.
Looking forward to seeing all the educational goodness you all have.
*Full disclosure, this is a project I admin.
In general, like you said, projects that are of the “[favorite taxonomic group] of [relevant geographic area]” type are going to be useful for teaching about the organisms in that group in that area.
My impression is that most educators who use projects are using them to collect and/or direct their students’ observations, although it might just be that those are most of the projects started by educators. Although if you have a traditional project that you run or are interested in, having a bunch of students searching for relevant observations and adding them to the project can be very effective. I had my first-year college students do this for the project I run and I wound up having to broaden the target area because they went through the initial targets so quickly! This was helpful not just because of the observations that were added directly by the students, but because a bunch of people saw their observation had been added to a project, thought it sounded cool, and joined themselves.
Pollinator Associations (and other projects that pool data about pollinator-plant interactions) is great. So is Predators.
I’m interested to find more ways to extend our use of iNaturalist through projects. Currently, we use it to discover the world around us, and identify the native/local species and how they interact. In our independent k-8 school, we are hoping to add some focus around bioblitzes. So that we can learn to evaluate the data from it year to year and also participate in a larger citizen scientist project.
Recently discovered “Who eats whom” - we haven’t used it in the classroom yet, but I think this will be beneficial in building understanding of habitats and ecosystems.
Another project citizen-scientist project we investigate is NASA’s Silent Earth. It monitors daily decibels around the country to track impacts for bird populations.
Just a reminder that no one under 13 can legally have their own iNat account without iNat obtaining their parent/guardian’s permission. Are you thinking about doing this 13 year-olds and up?
We use a shared school account (not tethered to any student data) and only when I or another teacher is present. is this not allowed? The students are younger than 13 and it would be a shame for them to not participate.
That should be OK, it’s what we recommend in the Teacher’s Guide. Please do make sure the kids observe wild organisms and try as much as possible to take clear photos.
The teachers guide is so helpful! Thanks for sharing.
I am excited by the concept of the City Nature Challenge and its motivational aspects, so I organized a “nature challenge” between two school in our city, each represented by a teacher and a biology class of ~30 students aged 16-19. A third team was formed by our city administration. Most kids really seemed to enjoy the bioblitz, being outside with their peers, seeing experts helping them with the IDs (“this expert IDed MY observation!”) and simply collecting observations with their smartphone.
After the areas were created, the biggest challenge was data privacy (as iNat is located in the US and their data privacy laws are weak). I created 6 fresh mail-addresses and 6 fresh iNat-accounts for each class. Groups of ~5 Kids shared one account in order to blur their personalized data.
At the moment I try to get teachers in our area to organize their own “nature challenges” and to participate in the CNC.
Project can be found here