School groups using iNat

Hi, this is my 4th year to run a small local BioBlitz for public participation. I am wondering if there is experience in attracting, organizing and “curating” school participation - to get the next generations hooked on learning about their environment. Pros and cons, best practices? Worth the effort?

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You should take a look at the posts in this section of the forums: https://forum.inaturalist.org/c/educators/30

One thing that seems to be key is that the instructors/organizers should a) already be familiar with iNat and b) be actively involved in monitoring and guiding the students – i.e., don’t just have them download the app and set them loose with their phones to observe potted plants and have fun giving “joke” IDs to photographs of their classmates.

If they are under 13 they will not be able to have accounts of their own, though they may use Seek instead.

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100% agree with above, and also add that https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/teacher’s+guide
has good resources.

Using iNat with school classes can be very rewarding, BUT there are also a lot of potential pitfalls that can make this an issue for both schools and other iNat users. I don’t say that to discourage - just being real! So it can work out really well, but these types of projects need to be designed intentionally and closely monitored.

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One of the hills that I die on is that the best way to involve schools is first through exploring iNat data. Then, and only then, those students who want to move forward can become part of a data collection team. Otherwise, the photos are just so much NatureTok to them.

The teachers are going to be looking educational relevance of the BioBlitz. iNat data is great for teaching adaptations, habitats, food webs, ecosystems, and map interpretation. You can see a lesson I developed around iNat observations of Great Blue Herons in my state here.

You could do something similar for an oft-observed organism in your BioBlitz.

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School/public/group events are a great way to foster interest in wildlife and can absolutely be worth the effort.

In addition to what others have said, please instruct participants to focus on wild organisms. I’ve spent hours annotating observations as Cultivated/Captive because instructors apparently neglected to mention this part to their students before unleashing them into manicured campus gardens. Participants can still upload observations of non-wild organisms but please mark it Cultivated/Captive if it’s obvious.

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We are in the last hours of this year’s City Nature Challenge.
Boy Scouts and Girl Guides have been involved.
Maybe next year ?

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Thankyou so much, I will share this idea and your lesson plan with a couple of my teaching contacts.

Diana, can you let me.know how it went. I probably onlybhave 1 school involved under close supervision of their teacher

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Thank you - I did not find that link and it looks great

I identify, but not part of organising scouts and guides.

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I think that @spiphany has perfectly explained some of the most important requirements.

I can only add these things:

  • I think it would be important that the students knew what iNat is. That is not a Plantnet alternative or Instagram with living organisms but a geodatabase with a huge community of users from all over the world. It follows that someone should introduce to them the concept of geographical coordinates.

  • When using iNat in the field, the app should be an interface to study and learn nature, not the opposite, that is nature becomes an excuse to use the app.

  • When using iNat there should not be a challenge (as sometimes it happens) consisting in making the highest number of observations. It is better to make fewer but better observations. So, the teacher/educator should have in mind what a “good quality observation” is. The latter is not necessarily something wild.

Apart these points, I think that, if feasible, it would be better to accompany in the field small groups of students so that there is a higher probability that they remain, as far as it is in their possibilities, focused and they can be better looked after in the use of the app.

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(moved this to Educators)