Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: World of Wonder: A Program on the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism for Grades K-1

Faith In Action: Citizen Scientists

Part of World of Wonder

Activity time: 60 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard by Unitarian Universalist Loree Griffin Burns
  • Closing song lyrics from Session 1

Preparation for Activity

  • Purchase the book, or borrow it from a library. Obtain a few copies, if possible. Check the author's website for more information.
  • Read the book's introduction, "What Is a Citizen Scientist, Anyway?" Prepare to present its ideas to a gathering of families.

Description of Activity

Review seasonal projects suggested in Burns' book, and select one appropriate for your locale and the time of year. The projects include Fall Butterflying (tagging Monarch butterflies), Winter Birding (counting birds for the Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count), Spring Frogging (monitoring frog population for the Frog Watch program), and Summer Ladybugging (ladybug spotting for the Lost Ladybug Project). The book offers instructions and resources for these projects. Find alternate projects at Citizen Science Central or Science for Citizens.

Choose a date and time for a family gathering. You might invite the wider congregation to participate as well.

Decide who will lead the introduction and discussion of Citizen Scientist. You may wish to talk with congregation members who are elementary science teachers, scientists, or naturalists and invite them to participate. If the congregation participates in the UUA Green Sanctuary program, invite members of that committee to participate. If any families already participate in Citizen Science projects at home or at school, invite them to talk about their project.

Families of the World of Wonder group connect with each other in a way that fosters shared commitment in caring for the earth, by becoming involved with Citizen Science projects.

When families have gathered, introduce the concept of citizen scientists by reading or paraphrasing from the book. Describe the project you have chosen. Solicit input from families to build support and help shape the project. Make plans to communicate with families and the wider congregation about next steps and after the work has been done, to share their experiences.

Close the gathering by asking the children to lead the song "We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands."