Saturday, September 21, 2013

Citizen Scientists: Be A Part of Scientific Discovery From Your Own Backyard

by Loree Griffin Burns
photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz
Henry Holt and Company, 2012
80 pages, Paperback

When I was a kid, I liked to look at bugs, frogs, and other creepy things.  When I grew up, I graduated to an interest in birdwatching.  And when I became a teacher, I enjoyed biology units in which I could encourage my students to learn more about the natural world around them. 

Citizen Scientists is a book that can help kids (and grownups) begin to recognize some of the detail and beauty of creation.  It's about how ordinary people can contribute to actual research projects - a "citizen scientist" is someone who helps professional scientists collect information in the field.  There's four sections, each covering monarch butterflies, winter birding, listening for frogs in spring, and looking for ladybugs. 

Each section shares a quick story about a child who has made a hobby of observing nature, explains about the creature or creatures being examined, gives the reader information about how to get started, and has a list of resources (both books and online) to help the reader learn what they need to know in order to find and identify each creature.  There's also information about why keeping track of what animals live where is important information.

What I really like about this book is that it isn't just something to read and then put aside - putting the information to use could lead to some great family time outdoors, learning and exploring together.

There is a focus on American places and creatures, but there is enough overlap with Canadian ecology, and enough additional resources suggested that it's still useful and interesting for Canadians.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

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