Reflection: Classroom Setup CAPSTONE: Hudson-Raritan Estuary Field Research Data Collection at the Bay Ridge EcoDock (3 of 3) - Section 1: FRAME: Citizen science field research


Field research is an exciting opportunity for students to collect data from environments that they study in the classroom. However, field research will fail spectacularly if there are not a few important organizational structures in place. Students will become confused and unhappy; teachers will become frustrated. Nobody wants that!

Here are some guidelines for organizing this type of field research trip:

  1. KNOW YOUR FIELD RESEARCH SITE. Plan to spend a weekend day walking through the entire field research experience. Where are the best places to collect water? If it is a public site, where are the best places to conduct test so that there will be minimal disruption to the public? Where is the best meeting place for students to start and end their research? What difficulties might students encounter with accessing the site? What types of clothing will be most appropriate for students to where? Is the oyster cage readily accessible? What is the best way for student teams to conduct different research tasks so that they are not interfering with each other?
  2. COMMUNICATE WITH ALL STAKEHOLDERS FREQUENTLY. This will vary by site, but you may need to contact parks officials for permits, gate codes, and and blocks of time. You will likely need to communicate with school leaders and parents at least a month before your trip. And if you are part of a project group or university, you will need to keep your contact people in the loop. You do not want to have your field research cut short because you failed to secure permissions for your work. And you do not want to lose the privilege of conducting field research because you did not communicate with an important stakeholder. (For planning guidelines for communicating with your school stakeholders see this description from the Food Unit.)
  3. START SMALL. Take out one class at a time, especially for the first trip. I limit my group size to 30 students for the first field research trip. 
  4. HAVE MATERIALS SORTED BY GROUP. Students are assigned to field research teams with specific tasks. Each team should carry the supplies needed for these research tasks. I like to use five gallon buckets with handles. All the testing materials that students will need can go in the bucket.
  5. LABEL BUCKETS BY GROUP. The PROTOTYPE ACTIVITY GUIDE for this field research process sorts students into four research teams. Each team has a group name and icon taken from common species in the Hudson River. These icons are: Green Crab, Blue Mussel, Blackfish, and Silver Hake. Printing out these icons and attaching them to buckets will ensure that student groups do not mix up supplies or take the wrong the bucket.
  6. CHECK THAT ALL MATERIALS ARE READY FOR USE. In the previous lesson, students learned the procedures that they will need to use during field research. During this process, tubes can go missing, tablets can end up in the wrong box, and secchi disks can become damaged. Plan to spend at least one hour checking all materials the day before the trip so that replacements can be found if necessary. Don't forget the oranges, gloves, and hand sanitizer.
  7. BRIEF YOUR CHAPERONE THOROUGHLY. It is very likely that you will need to take a chaperone on this trip who does not know anything about your class. Plan to spend at least a half hour presenting an overview of the field experience trip and negotiating expectations. What do you want this chaperone to do? When do you want this chaperone to ask you for help?
    1. Do student groups understand assigned research tasks?
    2. Do student groups understand when to use provided materials?
    3. Do student groups understand the transportation process. It may be useful to model the transportation to and from the field site on a digital map projected for the whole class.
    4. Do student groups understand the schedule for the day? It may be useful to project the hour by hour activities for all students to see.

  Strategies for successful field research experiences
  Classroom Setup: Strategies for successful field research experiences
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CAPSTONE: Hudson-Raritan Estuary Field Research Data Collection at the Bay Ridge EcoDock (3 of 3)

Unit 2: Citizen science, Student design
Lesson 13 of 13

Objective: Students will be able to 1) collect data from field research sites; 2) identify factors in the environment around the field research sites that would influence collected data; 3) assess the health and biodiversity of an oyster cage; and 4) articulate potential future directions for citizen science work in the Sunset Park neighborhood.

Big Idea: Citizen science projects along the Hudson river contribute to a fuller understanding of the health the estuary system. How does data collection help scientists and designers in develop a more complete picture of the needs of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary?

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Science, Statistics, field work, Community Mapping, engineering design thinking
  270 minutes
graphic citizen science
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