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Driven to Discover

The Driven to Discover citizen science program engages youth in authentic scientific inquiry by capitalizing on the rich learning opportunities provided by citizen science.

What is Driven to Discover?

Driven to Discover uses citizen science as a springboard for engaging youth in the full process of authentic research. We provide tools, resources, and curricula for youth group leaders and program managers to plan and carry out citizen science-based research with youth.

Initially funded by the National Science Foundation, the Driven to Discover: Enabling authentic inquiry through citizen science project has two variations. One series is designed for middle and high school classroom settings while the other series is designed for afterschool and summer youth programs. Each edition in each series is built around nationally-known citizen science programs, though the project can easily be adapted for use with other citizen science projects.

Young scientists are immersed in the ecology of their study organism as they learn to collect and submit data to a national citizen science project. While they are collecting data, they keep a journal of their own observations and questions. These personal observations then provide the basis for their own independent research. As they participate in Driven to Discover, youth discover the wonders of science in the real world, beyond a textbook. They learn about the natural world and begin to think of themselves as scientists.

Find out how you can get started with Driven to Discover in your classroom or youth program.

The Driven to Discover process

Participants in Driven to Discover citizen science clubs experience a three-step process that builds on observation and data collection to prepare youth participants to do their own independent investigations. First, they develop a base of skills and knowledge that will allow them to recognize the organisms they’re studying, tuning their observational skills. Next, they put that base to work when they learn and implement the specific protocols of the citizen science project. These experiences provide opportunities to observe nature closely, not just seeing organisms, but quantifying and recording what they see. The first two steps trigger the youth participants’ natural curiosity and provide the skills and motivation needed to support an independent research project.


1. Mastering necessary science skills: species identification and natural history; 2. Contributing to citizen science: following protocols and asking questions based on observations; and 3. Doing independent inquiry: developing testable questions and implementing the full cycle of inquiry.

What are people saying about Driven to Discover?

Visit our You Tube playlist to see Driven to Discover in action!


The University of Minnesota Extension Driven to Discover curriculum is funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Driven To Discover is proud to collaborate with:

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