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Extension > Environment > Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education > Conservation education > Driven to Discover: Enabling authentic inquiry through citizen science > Process


What is Driven to Discover?

The Driven to Discover: Enabling authentic inquiry through citizen science project is an inquiry based curriculum designed for after school and summer programming for youth ages 10–14. The project uses nationally-known citizen science programs as the basis for engaging youth in authentic scientific research.

The curriculum was developed around the University of Minnesota's Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's eBird and corresponding BirdSleuth Project. However, many of the resources we provide can be easily 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. While they are collecting data, they keep a journal of observations and questions. These personal observations are the basis for the second half of the project, in which youth conduct their own research. By participating 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.

The Driven to Discover process

The participants in Driven to Discover citizen science clubs experience a three-step process that takes them through the process of inquiry. First, they practice essential skills that will help them recognize the subject of their study and develop a base of skills and knowledge. Then 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, which naturally triggers the curiosity and motivation needed to drive 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.

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