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Nature Lab


3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Biology, English Language Arts

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plan
  • Video, 6 minutes, 40 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Activity - Outdoors
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Project

Regional Focus

North America, United States


PDF, Downloadable MP4/M4V

You’re the Scientist! Citizen Science, Frogs & Cicadas

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  • In this lesson, students explore the impact citizens can make in contributing to scientific inquiries and studies, with specific examples of citizen science projects students can participate in.
  • This resource contains two links to the video (which includes a virtual field trip), a data analysis extension, vocabulary terms, discussion questions about citizen science projects, and a project that students research and participate in.
Teaching Tips


  • This will inspire students to participate in local data gathering and scientific explorations.
  • Links to more than 9 additional resources are included for further learning, including related lab experiments.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The video that supports this lesson plan can be accessed through Vimeo (to download and use offline) or YouTube (for closed captioning and language translations).
  • Some of the resources are not hyperlinked, so you must search for them individually or reference this similar list of citizen science projects.


  • Provide students with time to research the meaning of citizen science using the resources referenced, such as the official citizen science website. 
  • The discussion questions could be used as a written task after the virtual field trip, throughout the virtual field trip by pausing, or orally in small group discussion after the virtual field trip.
  • As an extension activity, use some of the additional resources on page 6 by using data to extend learning.
  • This lesson could be adapted for high school science classes by increasing the autonomy of the students in the research, data, and project sections.
Scientist Notes
This lesson plan introduces the idea of citizen science through many different activities. The first discusses the history of citizen science, using public observations of cicadas in the 1840s as an example, and shows how students can share this data now. Other projects are about frogs, pollinators, and light pollution. This lesson plan is a great way to introduce citizen science and the idea that anyone can contribute to science by sharing their observations of the world around them. It also allows for discussion about how science projects are designed and how data is collected. Citizen science projects exist for almost any science topic and the lesson plan includes resources for different project ideas. This resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • RI.4.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.
      • RI.5.9 Integrate and reflect on (e.g., practical knowledge, historical/cultural context, and background knowledge) information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • RST.6-8.3 Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
      • RST.6-8.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • SL.4.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
      • SL.7.2 Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
    • LS3: Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
      • 3-LS3-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms.
    • LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
      • 3-LS4-2. Use evidence to construct an explanation for how the variations in characteristics among individuals of the same species may provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing.
      • MS-LS4-4. Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.
  • Related Resources


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