Y-CITYSCI

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 Activity Plans

Semester 1 Activity 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 activities, 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 Semester 1 Activity 1: Introduction to Nature of Science Activity 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 Semester 1 Activity 2: Introduction to Nature of Science Activity 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 Semester 1 Activity 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 Semester 1 Activity 4: Introduction to Citizen Science Activity 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 Semester 1 Activity 5: Introduction to Citizen Science Continued Activity 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 Semester 1 Activity 6: Meet a Scientist 1 Activity 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 Semester 1 Activity 7: Meet a Scientist 2 Activity 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 Semester 1 Activity 8: Research Activity 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 Semester 1 Activity 9: Showcase Preparation Activity 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 Semester 1 Activity 10: Final Showcase Activity 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 Activity Plans

The second semester of the Y-CITYSCI activity plans engages students in various types of environmental pollutants and ways to monitor these pollutants. Students learn the importance of environmental monitoring using several tools and sensors that assess pollutants. After completing the second semester of activities, students will gain background knowledge and skills to understand environmental pollutants and develop an environmental assessment plan using sensors.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Activity 1: Introduction to Pollution Activity 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 Activity 2: Introduction to Noise Activity 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 Activity 3: Noise Pollution Activity 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 Activity 4: STEM Careers Activity Plans. Students learn that people from diverse backgrounds and experiences are and can become scientists.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Activity 5: Soil Pollution Activity Plans. Students learn about soil pollution, what causes soil pollution, and how soil pollution can affect a person’s health.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Activity 6: Soil Pollution with Guest Scientist Activity 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 Activity 7: Natural and Built Environment Introduction Activity Plans. Students learn about natural and built environments and how that affects a community’s daily activities and health.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Activity 8: Natural and Built Environment with Guest Scientist Activity 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 Activity 9: Air Pollution Activity Plans. Students learn about air pollution, what causes air pollution, and how air pollution can affect a person’s health.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Activity 10: Research Project Planning Activity 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 Activity 11: Data Collection Activity Plans. Students collect data for their research projects and discuss the data collection process.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Activity 12: Data Analysis Activity Plans. Students learn to use a spreadsheet program, like Microsoft Excel, to summarize the data they collected using descriptive statistics.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Activity 13: Communicating Data Activity Plans with Research Poster Example and Template. Students practice communicating difficult concepts and begin developing their research posters.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Activity 14: Presentation Preparation Activity Plans. Students learn how to share scientific data through research posters using images, descriptive statistics, written text, and verbal communication.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 2 Activity 15: Final Presentation Activity Plans. Students share their scientific research projects by presenting their research posters to others in their communities.

Semester 3 Activity Plans

The third semester of the Y-CITYSCI activity plans, conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, engages students in  learning about various environmental pollutants. Students will learn about noise and air pollution, human-built and natural environments, and methods to collect, find, analyze, and interpret data. After completing the third semester of lessons, students will gain background knowledge and skills to understand environmental pollutants and spatial relationships within these domains.

Y-CITYSY-CITYSCI Semester 3 Activity 1: Pollution, Sound Waves, and Noise Pollution Activity Plan. Students learn about noise pollution, how sound is measured, and how noise pollution can affect a person’s health. Students learn to conduct a citizen science investigation using a sound meter smartphone application to collect data on noise levels around their homes and communities. Students are introduced to Google Sheets and how they can use Sheets to analyze noise pollution using data from the Southwest Illinois Noise Monitoring Data Set collected by SIUE’s STEM Center.

Y-CITYSY-CITYSCI Semester 3 Activity 2: Noise Pollution and Place Activity Plan. Students continue to learn about noise pollution. Students see how sound waves travel through their communities being absorbed and reflected by various surfaces. Students learn how to analyze and interpret data with Google Sheets as well as begin to understand geospatial data by utilizing Google Earth to understand the spatial factors that play into noise pollution within their communities.

Y-CITYSY-CITYSCI Semester 3 Activity 3: Built and Natural Environments Activity Plan. Students learn about human-built and natural environments by continuing to explore Google Earth, examining human-built and natural environments. Students also learn how humans have modified landscapes over time and how these changes impact natural environments.

Y-CITYSY-CITYSCI Semester 3 Activity 4: What is Land Cover? Activity Plan. Students learn about land cover and it’s effects on the environment and communities. Students use the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristic Consortium’s National Land Cover Database Viewer as well as Google Earth to find and understand patterns of land cover within their community.

Y-CITYSY-CITYSCI Semester 3 Activity 5: What’s in the Air? Activity Plan. Students learn about air, air pollution, how air pollution is measured, and it’s impacts on human health. Students will learn about web-based resources to access air quality data gathered by PurpleAir, as well as how to download and analyze data from PurpleAir.

Semester 4 Lesson Plans

The fourth semester of the Y-CITYSCI activity plans conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, engages students in  learning about various environmental pollutants. Students will learn about noise and air pollution, human-built and natural environments, soil pollution, and methods to collect, find, analyze, and interpret data. After completing the fourth semester of lessons, students will gain background knowledge and skills to understand environmental pollutants and spatial relationships within these domains.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 4 Activity 1: Environmental Science Activity Plan. Students will be introduced to environmental science, specific areas of research within environmental science, and how scientists can use research to learn and address environmental issues.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 4 Activity 2: Citizen Science Activity Plan. Students will explore how they can be a part of scientific research through citizen science projects. Citizen science will enable students to experience scientific resarch as a member of the general public, givign them the opportunity to gain experience and information to help direct their future scientific interests and careers.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 4 Activity 3: Environmental and Citizen Science Review. Students will review the significance of environmental science and its various forms of resarch through one on one discussion and a scavenger hunt game.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 4 Activity 4: Air Pollution Activity Plan (Coming Soon!). Students will define air pollution and learn how it is measured. Students will explore air quality data collection through a recorded demonstration of one of the program’s PurpleAir monitors used in the network in their community.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 4 Activity 5: Data Activity Plan. Students will learn about the importance of data in scientific research. Students will discuss accurate data collection and how to analyze patterns in data by exploring noise pollution data examples taken from our program’s noise monitoring network. Students will also explore the strengths and limitations of data collected through citizen science.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 4 Activity 6: Air Pollution II Activity Plan. Students will review the definition of air pollution and how it is measured. Students will explore air quality data from one of the program’s PurpleAir monitoring network sites in their community and learn to graph the data.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 4 Activity 7: Collecting Data Activity Plan. Students will discuss accurate data collection and how to analyze patterns in data by viewing noise pollution data examples taken from our program’s noise monitoring networks as well as collecting and analyzing their own noise data.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 4 Activity 8: Soil Pollution and Landscapes Activity Plan (Coming Soon!). Students will learn about soil pollution, land cover, and how to analyze data on these topics. This lesson will bridge the gap between Semester 4 Lesson 4 and Semester 5 Activity 9. Students will explore a way to visualize spatial data using spreadsheets and graphs.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 4 Activity 9: Soil Activity Plan (Coming Soon!). Students will define soil pollution and learn how it is measured. Students will explore relevant soil data collected by the Y-CITYSCI Program and watch videos of the program’s soil scientist collecting soil samples.

Y-CITYSCI Semester 4 Activity 10: Semester Review. Students will review the significance of environmental science and its various forms of research through one-on-one discussion and a scaenger hunt review game.

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 Citizen Science Activity 4: GLOBE Observer – Landcover Activity. Students contribute to citizen science data collection by taking pictures of land in their community. Students can also learn interesting facts about land change in their area as well as land change across the country.

Y-CITYSCI Citizen Science Activity 5: Tea Bag Index Activity. Students contribute to citizen science data collection by making observations on the soil in their community. Students can learn more about their community’s soil by performing an easy experiment utilizing a tea bag.

Y-CITYSCI Citizen Science Activity 6: Loss of the Night Activity. Students contribute to citizen science data collection by making observations on stars that are visible in their community. Students can learn more about artificial light and light pollution by observing what stars are visible from where they live.

Y-CITYSCI Citizen Science Activity 7: Earth Challenge 2020 Activity. Students contribute to citizen science data collection by uploading images and taking observations of air pollution, plastic pollution, insects, and food supply in their community. Students can learn more about these areas by viewing other users’ observations.

Y-CITYSCI Citizen Science Activity 8: Flood Inundation Mapper Activity. Students can use real-time water level and flood data to learn more about floods and how a flood might impact their community. The program can also display photos and simulations of historical floods.

Y-CITYSCI Citizen Science Activity 9: Project Budburst Activity. Students contribute to citizen science data collection by uploading images and observations of plants budding in their community. Students are able to document various other plant life cycle changes as well.

Y-CITYSCI Citizen Science Activity 10: mPING + FLOCAST Activity. Students contribute to citizen science data collection by uploading observations of weather events happening around them, such as rain, wind, and flooding.

Y-CITYSCI Project Team

Meet Our Team!

Principal Investigators

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.

Senior Personnel

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.

Dr. Charlie Blake is the curricular product developer and professional development specialist for Environmental Health Investigators. Dr. Blake is an ecologists who spent several years doing field ecology and environmental education in different habitats across the country. They have an interest in citizen science and community-based participatory research.

Dr. Andreia Figueiredo Dexheimer is the research coordinator and graduate student supervisor for the Y-CITYSCI program. Dr. Figueiredo Dexheimer is a biologist with several years of experience in animal learning research, science education, and outreach.

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.

Graduate Assistants

Mr. Ozaveshe Paul Amune graduated from Ambrose Alli University in Nigeria where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. Currently, he is working toward his master’s degree in computer management and information systems at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Paul serves as a graduate assistant on Y-CITYSCI assisting with student program and data tracking.

Mr. Dwayne Ferguson graduated from Virginia State University with a bachelor’s of science degree in biology in 2019. He is currently working towards a master’s of science degree in environmental sciences at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Dwayne helps develop and maintain our air and noise pollution monitoring network.

Mr. Josh Gifford is currently working towards a master’s of science degree in environmental sciences at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.  Josh currently works at the STEM Center helping to maintain our environmental health monitoring network which aims to collect air quality and noise pollution levels throughout southwest Illinois.

Ms. Lily Ward graduated from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with bachelor’s of science degree in geography and a minor in biology. Since then, she has worked as a field technician at the Great Rivers Field Station, Illinois Natural History Survey, in Alton, Illinois. Lily is now pursuing a master’s of science degree in environmental science from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

             

Y-CITYSCI is supported by the National Science Foundation Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers Award No. 1850343. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Science Foundation.