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Citizen Science Action Project

Students examine soil sample
Students working the field
Students hard at work
Examining the map together
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School(s): Beverly J. Martin, Caroline,  Enfield, South Hill Elementary Schools
Grades(s): Fifth Grade
Subject(s): Reading, Writing, Science, Art

Essential Questions
How do organisms in ecosystems interact with and rely upon each other?
What keeps a system in balance? What conditions allow an organism to thrive?
What living organisms exist at my field site and how do they interact?
What are living organisms at other field sites in Ithaca, and how do they compare to the findings at my field site?
Case Study At A Glance
Nearly 200 fifth-grade students from four elementary schools across the Ithaca City School District collaborated on a citizen science project. The project-based investigation focused on building partnerships between elementary schools, and community scientists and educators. Students collected and analyzed data from local field sites to understand the ecosystem. Their findings drove further investigations of local invasive species, and culminated in a public sharing and educational symposium with the goal of educating the public about what they should know and can do about invasive species in Ithaca.
Standards Addressed/Long Term Learning Targets
  • I can describe the characteristics of a balanced system.
  • I can make a model to demonstrate how organisms can survive only in environments in which their needs are met.
  • I can record factual details and observations in my science field journal.
  • I can determine two or more main ideas from a text and explain how they are supported by key details.
  • I can determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases
  • Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.
  • Analyze multiple accounts of the same topic, noting important similarities and differences in the point of view they represent.
  • Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
  • Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
Bill Foster, The Floating Classroom/Trout Unlimited (Partner)
Mark Whitmore, Cornell Cooperative Extension
Sarah Newman, Floating Classroom
Karen Purcell, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Michael Roberts & Christine Boise, Cornell Plantations - Finger Lakes Native Plant Society
Rebecca Sibner, New York State Parks
Hillary Mosher, Director of Finger Lakes Region of Partnership for Invasive Species Management

Service Learning
Educational Symposium on Invasive Species for ICSD community

Field Work
Students conducted fieldwork at their school sites, as well as at Lower Buttermilk Falls State Park, Treman State Park, Cascadilla Creek, and Six Mile Creek.

Anchor Texts
What Are Food Chains and Webs? by Bobbie Kalman
What is the Threat of Invasive Species? by Eve Hartman