Youth-Led Citizen Science Network for Community Environmental Assessment
The Youth-Led Citizen Science Network for Community Environmental Assessment (Y-CITYSCI) is a program that provides underserved middle and high school youth with the opportunity to lead and participate in a citizen science project. In this program, students investigate issues in their community related to noise, soil, air, and land cover. The students will focus on their community and integrate technology into their investigations. These students will then use their growing technology skill to create website content and social media posts to share their findings with their community and beyond. The Y-CITYSCI student blog can be found here. And, follow us on instagram @ycitysci.
Y-CITYSCI Lesson Plans
Semester 1 Lesson Plans
Y-CITYSCI offers meaningful and relevant STEM experiences for youth, developing and strengthening their science identity as they engage in authentic science. After completing these lessons, students will gain background knowledge and skills to be able to design, carry out, and communicate findings from technology-rich, community-focused environmental citizen science projects.
Y-CITYSCI Lesson 1: Introduction to Nature of Science Lesson Plans. Students explore the Nature of Science through participating in a Science-a-thon where they observe unique materials that have seemingly unexplainable science principals responsible for how the items work.
Y-CITYSCI Lesson 2: Introduction to Nature of Science Lesson Plans Continued. Students will continue to learn about the Nature of Science and that science is a large part of their everyday lives. They will also do a hands-on activity illustrating the importance of clearly communicating science information.
Y-CITYSCI Lesson 3: Introduction to Website and Instagram Lesson Plans. Students will learn to demonstrate the proper use of public interfaces, as well as the skills to maintain a website and social media site used to share program information and creations to the community.
Y-CITYSCI Lesson 4: Introduction to Citizen Science Lesson Plans. This lesson will introduce students to the basic definition and purpose of citizen science. They will also be introduced to citizen science apps which illustrate how the general public can participate in scientific research.
Y-CITYSCI Lesson 5: Introduction to Citizen Science Continued Lesson Plans. This lesson will allow students to receive hands-on practice collecting data using citizen science apps that focus on surveying plants and animals in their community.
Y-CITYSCI Lesson 6: Meet a Scientist 1 Lesson Plans. Students will learn how the public can contribute to research in previous lessons. In this lesson, students will meet an environmental scientist and get insight on the procedures and purpose behind their research. They will also be introduced to scientific tools used to collect data from the environment, as well as receive hands-on practice on how to use them.
Y-CITYSCI Lesson 7: Meet a Scientist 2 Lesson Plans. Students will learn how the public can contribute to research in previous lessons. In this lesson, students will meet another environmental scientist and get insight on the procedures and purpose behind their research. They will also be introduced to scientific tools used to collect data from the environment, as well as receive hands-on practice on how to use them.
Y-CITYSCI Lesson 8: Research Lesson Plans. Students learn to recognize what data are and demonstrate how data are used in research to answer questions and establish the known and the unknown.
Y-CITYSCI Lesson 9: Showcase Preparation Lesson Plans. Students will learn about science communication and prepare to demonstrate what they have learned during the Y-CITYSCI program with members of their community.
Y-CITYSCI Lesson 10: Final Showcase Lesson Plans. Students will use citizen science apps to demonstrate the content that they learned during the Y-CITYSCI program. They will hold discussions with community members about the nature of science, research, citizen science, and how these topics affect our everyday lives.
Semester 2 Lesson Plans
The second semester of the Y-CITYSCI lesson plans engages students in various types of environmental pollutants and ways to monitor these pollutants. Students will learn the importance of environmental monitor and tools and sensors that assess pollutants. After completing the second semester of lessons, students will gain background knowledge and skills to understand environmental pollutants and develop an environmental assessment plan using sensors.
Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Lesson 1: Introduction to Pollution Lesson Plans. Students learn about the different types of pollution they will study. They also engage in an activity where they experience why some pollutants are so difficult to remove from soils.
Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Lesson 2: Introduction to Noise Lesson Plans. Students will learn about noise pollution, how noise pollution is measured, and how noise pollution can affect a person’s health. Students will learn to use a sound meter to collect data on noise pollution that might be occurring around their school.
Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Lesson 3: Noise Pollution Lesson Plans. Continued. Students learn that sound is actually energy that travels as waves. Students will work with tuning forks to see how sound moves as waves and practice using sound meters to collect more sound data around their school.
Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Lesson 4: STEM Careers Lesson Plans. Students learn that people from diverse backgrounds and experiences can become scientists.
Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Lesson 5: Soil Pollution Lesson Plans. Students learn about soil pollution, what causes soil pollution, and how soil pollution can affect a person’s health.
Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Lesson 6: Soil Pollution with Guest Scientist Lesson Plans. Students learn about soil pollution from an expert scientist. Students also learn about relevant soil-related research and the tools used to conduct that research.
Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Lesson 7: Natural and Built Environment Introduction Lesson Plans. Students learn about natural and built environments and how that affects a community’s daily activities and health.
Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Lesson 8: Natural and Built Environment with Guest Scientist Lesson Plans. Students learn about natural and built environments from an expert scientist. Students will also be exposed to relevant landscape research and the tools used to conduct that research.
Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Lesson 9: Air Pollution Lesson Plans. Students learn about air pollution, what causes air pollution, and how air pollution can affect a person’s health.
Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Lesson 10: Research Project Planning Lesson Plans and Research Poster Example and Template. Students start to plan their research projects by deciding on a topic to study, their research question, and the data they will collect. Students then review how they will present their final research projects.
Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Lesson 11: Data Collection Lesson Plans. Students collect data for their research projects and discuss the data collection process.
Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Lesson 12: Data Analysis Lesson Plans. Students learn to use a spreadsheet program, like Microsoft Excel, to summarize the data they collected using descriptive statistics.
Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Lesson 13: Communicating Data Lesson Plans with Research Poster Example and Template. Students practice communicating difficult concepts and begin developing their research posters.
Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Lesson 14: Presentation Preparation Lesson Plans. Students learn how to share scientific data through research posters using images, descriptive statistics, written text, and verbal communication.
Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Lesson 15: Final Presentation Lesson Plans. Students share their scientific research projects by presenting their research posters to others in their communities.
Citizen Science Activities
The Y-CITYSCI citizen science activities engage students in various citizen science activities that can be done from home or school. Students will learn how to contribute to citizen science data collection in various ways as well as gain knowledge on their community’s environment.
Y-CITYSCI Citizen Science Activity 1: Spider Spotter Activity. Students contribute to citizen science data collection by taking pictures and observations of spiders and their webs. Students can also learn interesting facts about local spiders.
Y-CITYSCI Citizen Science Activity 2: Cicada Safari Activity. Students contribute to citizen science data collection by taking pictures, audio recordings, and observations of cicadas. Students can also learn interesting facts about local annual and periodical cicada emergence.
Y-CITYSCI Citizen Science Activity 3: iNaturalist Activity. Students contribute to citizen science data collection by taking pictures of plants, animals, and insects that they find around their community. Students can also learn interesting facts about local wildlife as well as wildlife across the country by looking at other user’s observations.
Y-CITYSCI Project Team
Meet Our Team!
Dr. Georgia Bracey is the PI of Y-CITYSCI and directs project research and leads project management and reporting. Bracey was project director of a 3-year Illinois Math Science Partnerships grant bringing Next Generation Science Standards training to teachers in East St. Louis, is co-PI on an NSF IUSE grant, and is conducting research for Digital East St. Louis, an NSF-funded out-of-school program for underrepresented minority youth.
Dr. Ben Greenfield serves as a co-PI on Y-CITYSCI and is responsible for integrating environmental field research methods into the curriculum, with support from project educators. Over a 20-year career in environmental monitoring, Dr. Greenfield has focused on the implications of environmental contamination for human and ecosystem health. He also has experience in place-based environmental education, including with underrepresented middle and high school students.
Dr. Sharon Locke serves as a co-PI on Y-CITYSCI, co-supervising graduate students to conduct science education research. Dr. Locke has an environmental geosciences background and has led/co-led several complex NSF-funded programs that have worked with groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM. She is PI for Digital East St. Louis, an NSF ITEST that promotes computing careers among African American youth.
Dr. Adriana E. Martinez serves as Senior Personnel on the program and brings expertise in physical geography and landscape change studies using drone (sUAS) technology. Dr. Martinez served as an expert scientist in underserved middle and high school classrooms as an NSF GK-12 Fellow.
Dr. Carol Colaninno is the project director for Y-CITYSCI and helps coordinate the alignment of research and student programming. Dr. Colaninno has spent the past seven years of her career developing youth-based educational curriculum much of which has focused on human-environmental interactions.
Ms. Candi Johnson is the project coordinator for Y-CITYSCI. She coordinates and supports all youth and educator activities, including student recruitment, curriculum design, and community partnerships. As a certified science teacher and former academic coordinator for Upward Bound, a college readiness program, Ms. Johnson has considerable experience translating biological, ecological, and environmental science content into grade-level and culturally appropriate activities.
Mr. Matt Johnson is an instructional design and curriculum development specialist and assists with technology integration and student app and website development. He is a former high school math and science teacher and is a certified computer science teacher. He also serves as co-lead for STEM curriculum development and/or assessment for projects funded by NSF (ITEST, DRK-12, STEM+C) and the Library of Congress.
Ms. Samantha Murphy is a research assistant for the STEM Center. Samantha has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and conducts research in the field of neuropsychology with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury and cognition. At the STEM Center, she is currently involved with research on how middle-school aged students create and maintain science identity. She has previous experience working on past nationally funded projects at the STEM Center.
Ms. Christine Favilla is currently pursuing her master’s degree in environmental sciences at SIUE, focusing on environmental education and toxicology. On the Y-CITYSCI program, she hopes to help underserved middle and high school youth participate in citizen science to strengthen their awareness of a potential science career, while studying how these experiences help form their science identity.
Ms. Jannatul Ferdous is a graduate student in the department of environmental sciences. She hopes to improve sustainability by enhancing the planet’s environmental conditions starting among local communities. She would also like to positively influence global environmental issues for the benefit of nature and human. As a graduate assistant at SIUE’s STEM Center, Jannatul is a program assistant for our Y-CITYSCI program, bringing citizen science to youth underrepresented in STEM in the St. Louis Metro East.
Ms. Danielle Fischer is pursuing her master’s degree in environmental science at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with a focus on chemistry and toxicology. She has worked previously as a middle school and high school teacher throughout the St. Louis community. As a graduate assistant, Danielle is working on the Environmental Health Investigators and Y-CITYSCI programs helping with curriculum development and student programming.
Mr. Xander Kalna is currently pursuing a master’s degree in environmental science at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with a focus on technology and assessment. His graduate research focuses on fluvial geomorphology and large wood interactions. Xander’s previous experience includes plant tissue culture and plant transformation, agar media preparation, educational labs, environmental sampling, and a hazmat tech. He currently supports curriculum development for the STEM Center’s Y-CITYSCI program.
Y-CITYSCI is supported by the National Science Foundation Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers.