Citizen science for younger children

Getting children involved with real scientific projects is a great way to inspire them to learn about the environment around them. Citizen Science in particular gives benefits to both the children and organisations by getting them involved to provide data for specific projects. By giving children the opportunity to spend more time outdoors they can also begin to develop an understanding of the surroundings they live in and an interest in protecting them.

We’ve put together five citizen science projects for younger children and preschool settings get involved in.

Garden Birdwatch

The most well-known citizen science project for primary children is probably the Big Garden Birdwatch. Completed between January and February and organised by the RSPB each year, schools arrange for children to count the birds in their school grounds for an hour. Different resources can be pulled from the RSPB website including ideas for teachers, free outreach visits and an interactive bird identifier. This gets children looking at the different bird species around the area and learning about their similarities and differences.

Big Schools Birdwatch

Big Butterfly Count

Taking place between July and August is the Big Butterfly count ran by the charity Butterfly Conservation. The aim of this nationwide survey and citizen science project is to help assess the health of our environments by using butterflies: butterflies react quickly to changes within the environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. Through uploading the results online of via the Big Butterfly Count app, children simply need to count up the number of butterflies they see within fifteen minutes. Get more information on the Big Butterfly Count website.

OPAL Biodiversity Survey

The Biodiversity Survey aims to understand, record and conserve the wildlife in our hedges. They are an invaluable for multiple species including birds, invertebrates and small mammals with shelter and good. The survey is all based around how the hedges look, the different sources of food, and the wildlife using the hedge. Full details are available on the Opal Explore Nature Website including identification guides, survey recording sheets and survey pack.

Earthworm Watch

The Natural History Museum in London and the Earthworm Institute (Europe) have collaborated together in association with the Earthworm society of Britain to find out how human activities above the soil are affecting soils and earthworms in green spaces. The survey itself takes under an hour to complete and will help to collate lots valuable information about how earthworms help to keep the soil healthy. To collect this information, children are encouraged to dig two small holes to count the earthworms and measure the soil properties before submitting the data online. The Earthworm Watch website has downloadable instruction booklets, videos and project packs.

Garden Bio Blitz

The Garden Bio Blitz is a weekend event on the 4th-5th June that promotes everyone to get out into their gardens and document the wildlife that is found over a 24-hour period. The survey is simple- go out into the garden at different times of the day and take lots of photographs of the animals found! All animals can be identified with helpful links on the Garden Bio Blitz website then add what you have found to the national database called iRecord. The information will be added to a big store of biological information that will help to make decisions about conservation projects, land management and planning permissions. For more information, visit the Garden Bio Blitz website.

Have you taken part in any Citizen Science with your children? For more fun activity ideas visit our outdoor learning page or follow us on Pinterest.