Nature

Citizen Science for Your Classroom: Track a Lilac

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Engage students with hands-on science by contributing to the Track a Lilac citizen science research project. Scientists are working with volunteers across North America to study phenology—seasonal changes in plant and animal life cycles. Watch this video produced for American Spring LIVE to learn how these changes are critical to addressing challenges that arise as the climate changes.

Citizen Science for Your Classroom: Cornell Bird Cams Lab

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Bring video of birds from around the world into your classroom and strengthen students’ observation and questioning skills with Cornell Bird Cams. Scientists from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology need citizen scientists to help them learn more about the behavior of birds commonly found in many backyards. Learn more with this video produced for American Spring LIVE.

Note that the individual activities for Bird Cams Lab last for a certain period until the data have been processed. The accompanying video highlights an activity called Battling Birds. There is an additional activity called Hawk Talk. These activities may or may not be available when you visit the Bird Cams Lab website. The activities in this resource can be applied to any current Bird Cams Lab activity.

Support materials from Cornell Bird Cams are available, including resources for using citizen science to engage students with STEM practices and real-world research. Extension activities are available to connect bird cam observations with activities exploring life cycles and human impact on the environment. For students who are new to citizen science, see introductory activities for Grades K-5 or 6-12, included with this resource.

Citizen Science for Your Classroom: Celebrate Urban Birds

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Explore the various ways birds use green spaces by participating in the Celebrate Urban Birds citizen science project. Watch this video produced for American Spring LIVE to learn how you can join scientists from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in this research initiative. Despite the name, observations can be made anywhere, in both rural and urban habitats.

Support materials from Celebrate Urban Birds are available, including resources for using citizen science to engage students with STEM practices and real-world research. In the accompanying classroom activity students observe birds in local green spaces. There are also tools to help students use art to engage with birds and nature.

For students who are new to citizen science, see introductory activities for Grades K-5 or 6-12, included with this resource.

Citizen Science for Your Classroom: The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project

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Inspire students by practicing real-world science with the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project. Find out how scientists are working with volunteers from across North America to understand why the monarch butterfly population is declining and to help protect them from further decline. Learn more with this video produced for American Spring LIVE.

Support materials from the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project are available, including resources for using citizen science to engage students with STEM practices and real-world research. There are tools to help students identify the stages of the monarch life cycle, tips for finding and working with local scientists, and more. The Driven to Discover: Monarchs materials from University of Minnesota Extension are comprehensive and include information on how to participate in the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project; see suggested selections in the teaching tips. In the accompanying classroom activity, students use their observation skills to look for monarchs on local milkweed, the larvae’s required food source. 

For students who are new to citizen science, see introductory activities for Grades K-5 or 6-12, included with this resource.

How Horses Read Our Expressions

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You can often tell how someone is feeling by the expression on their face, but did you know horses can recognize expressions too? This video from NATURE: Equus, "Story of the Horse” shows how scientists discovered that horses not only express many different emotions, they can also recognize expressions of emotion in other horses and in people. This lesson can be used to help students develop their own emotional awareness. Discussion questions and a fun “Emotions Charades” game help students recognize emotions in other people, and understand their personal reactions to the emotions of others.

Cat Adaptations: Agility

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Cheetahs are extraordinary animals. Not only can they run at tremendous speeds, they are also extremely agile creatures. In this video from Super Cats: A NATURE Miniseries, students explore how cheetahs’ unique body structures help them move quickly to catch prey. After watching the video, students can test their own agility with the Run Like a Cheetah activity.

Additional support materials are available, including discussion questions and vocabulary. For more resources from NATURE, check out the collection page.

Cat Adaptations: Super Senses

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Rusty spotted cats are the smallest felines in the world, but these little cats have some extremely powerful senses! In this video from Super Cats: A NATURE Miniseries, students will learn how one tiny cat uses his senses to navigate the world around him. Support materials include discussion questions, vocabulary, and a hands-on activity where students use their sense of touch to help a rusty spotted cat find its way home.

For more resources from NATURE check out the collection page.

Cat Adaptations: Body Structures

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Using segments from Super Cats: A NATURE Miniseries, this resource explores how different body structures allow cats to thrive in diverse environments across the planet. Students compare several cat species and examine the physical adaptions that allow each animal to be successful in their habitat. After examining these adaptations, students design their own creatures that are well adapted to survive in a specific environment.

For more resources from NATURE, check out the collection page.

Maintaining Traditions: The Blackfoot Confederacy and Their Horses

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Learn how members of the Blackfoot Confederacy, a group of tribes in North America, maintain and adapt their warrior traditions in this video from NATURE: Equus – Story of the Horse. Allison Red Crow, great-grandson of the legendary Blackfoot Chief Red Crow, leads a racing team that connects to warrior traditions through their relationship with horses. Support materials are available, including discussion questions and teaching tips.

Animal Adaptations: Intelligence and Social Behavior

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Dr. Natalia Borrego, a biologist who researches African mammal behavior, discovers that lions are the smartest cats in this video from Super Cats: A NATURE Miniseries. Social animals are more intelligent, but until now, no one has demonstrated that lions follow that trend. In the accompanying classroom activity, students analyze data from Dr. Borrego’s experiments comparing lions to other social animals and to solitary cats. Additional support materials are available, including discussion questions and vocabulary.

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