Through hands-on Citizen Science projects, volunteers partner with researchers to collect scientific data that answers real-world questions.
The Montana Girls STEM Collaborative, an outreach program of Montana NSF EPSCoR, was chosen to participate in Habitat Connections: Birds and Citizen Science, a program of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Twenty Montana educators were trained in implementing the program across the state. Montana NSF EPSCoR has a curriculum kit that can be loaned to classrooms and youth programs, and many of the Cornell resources are available for free download. Visit BirdSleuth K-12, or, to inquire about borrowing a 7-lesson curriculum kit, contact Suzi Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Citizen scientists learned about the impact of climate change on elk in the Upper Yellowstone River Basin while picking up elk scat samples at the Dome Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Paradise Valley. The project was designed to help Montana State University graduate student Erica Garroutte gather data on how climate change may be affecting the timing of grassland greenup and, in turn, elk foraging patterns. Garroutte is working with her advisor, MSU faculty member and Montana Institute on Ecosystems researcher Andy Hansen, to analyze the samples for their levels of chlorophyll. The data gathered will help Garroutte to determine whether elk are changing their migration and grazing patterns. It will also allow her to check the reliability of satellite reflectance photos (taken by an instrument on a NASA satellite called MODIS) to predict where elk are moving.
Using Technology to Research After Class (UTRAC) is a Montana State University, Montana EPSCOR, and Montana Institute on Ecosystems project to engage youth in scientific explorations relating to the water and carbon cycles – in their very own school playgrounds. In this project, youth in Montana will participate in hands-on, inquiry-based activities and data collection in informal educational settings, such as after school programs and summer camps. The UTRAC research team consists of a group of university researchers who are examining technologies that can be used in informal learning settings to both monitor and gather environmental data, as well as technologies that can be used to facilitate the assessment of student learning and engagement.
For more information about CLIMB please contact:
Director of Outreach
Montana State University Academic Technology & Outreach