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Citizen Science Research Integrated Across the Curriculum as a Core Learning Practice

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The iEvolve with STEM project is investigating how student conduct of citizen science research as a core instructional practice affects their motivation, engagement, and learning for students in two medium-size school districts in grades 3-8. Each classroom is participating in a CSR project lead by a partner agency, organization, or institution. These projects include studies of pollinators prevalence and habitat, water quality in local water bodies, amphibian ecology in vernal pools, and soil and rain garden function. At the end of the school year, students present their research findings in a research symposium for members of their local community, to celebrate their research achievements and to call attention to the important issues they are addressing. This is integrated into the curriculum, addressing related state learning standards, and serving as a context for connecting all four core subject areas: natural science, mathematics, language arts, and social studies. This is intended to give students opportunities to learn through activities that accomplish outcomes that are meaningful and of value to their local communities as well as to the professional practice of science. This is also intended to deepen students' understanding and appreciation of the practice of science, an outcome that seems to be of increasing importance and urgency.