Be a Citizen Scientist Along with Sheldrake and Our Community
The Larchmont Mamaroneck school district’s elementary students recently completed their final Sheldrake unit of the spring, which is titled Nature in Your Neighborhood. One of the goals of this unit is to help students realize that nature can be found everywhere in their neighborhood and doesn’t require a special trip to get to. In fact, it’s not just enjoyment of nature that is close by and accessible. Scientific research about nature also takes place “in the neighborhood.” Scientific discoveries are not exclusive to laboratories or exotic locales. Many take place in homes, yards, and neighborhoods, and are made by regular people, contributing in a way that we call citizen science. In this spirit, we present to you our quiz, True or False: Nature in Your Neighborhood. Test yourself and then follow along with naturalist Anthony Waring as he lets us know which of these neighborhood nature stories is true.
True or False: Nature in Your Neighborhood
- A woman watching her bird feeder changed what people thought about migration.A new species of frog was discovered in the Bronx.
- Scientists are setting up field stations in backyards to study feeding habits of songbirds.
- A new species of ant was discovered in a flower pot in an office building.
- There’s a difference between New York and Boston pigeons.
- Crows can recognize faces and hold grudges.
- 30 new species of fly were discovered in Los Angeles in one year.
- A new species of mushroom was discovered in a grocery store in London.
Get the answers from Sheldrake naturalist Anthony Waring.
All these facts are true and were discovered by regular people looking at and studying nature in their neighborhood. These regular people, who we call citizen scientists, make real contributions to the world’s understanding of nature and have changed the face, dynamic, and speed of research in the natural world.
There are many citizen science projects you can be a part of. Some focus on birds. Some focus on monarch butterflies. Some focus on ladybugs. Some focus on flowers. Some focus on invasive plant species, like garlic mustard.
You can also join Sheldrake in our first annual Backyard Bioblitz! A bioblitz is a citizen science event that, unlike some narrowly targeted projects, is the generalist of citizen science projects. Bioblitzes aim to find, identify, and record as many species as possible throughout the plant, fungus, and animal kingdoms over a short period of time, getting an accurate snapshot of an area’s overall biodiversity. A bioblitz allows scientists, naturalists, families, students, teachers, scout troops, and other community members to work together. We’re especially excited to inaugurate our backyard bioblitz this year, as it allows us to enjoy and reinforce our connectivity to nature in a safe and socially distanced format. Our bioblitz will take place during the week of July 12-18 in your backyard or neighborhood! Here’s how it works:
- Form a group. This could be your family, your block association, your scout group, your class, etc.
- Decide where you will be doing the bioblitz. This could be in your yard, at the park, along your block’s sidewalk–almost anywhere that is close by and safe for your group to access. Data may be collected anywhere in Westchester County.
- Sign your group up using the form below.
- Make sure at least one member of your group has downloaded the (free) iNaturalist app. You will use the app to record your findings. We have set up a project on the app titled Sheldrake Bioblitz 2020 for this project.
- Observe and record your observations on iNaturalist! You can record data anytime during the week of July 12-July 18, 2020. It’s probably best to set up a specific time or two in advance for your group to do this.
- Please send us pictures as you bioblitz! These can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- After the event, we will present the data findings in our newsletter.
- To make it fun, and maybe a bit competitive, we will announce winners in these categories:
- Youngest participant
- Oldest participant
- Groups that made observations in plant, animal, and fungi kingdoms
- Groups that made observations in all animal classes, including fish, amphibian, reptile, mammal, bird, and invertebrates.
We hope you join our Backyard Bioblitz as we discover the nature in our neighborhood! Please register here.