Public Lab Research note

This is part of a series on student-community-science.

Workshop III: How Have Other Communities Tackled This Problem?

by mimiss , purl | May 15, 2019 22:03 15 May 22:03 | #19413 | #19413

This lesson is part of a series of lessons designed for educators to facilitate student-led inquiry around environmental topics. If there are time constraints, this lesson can be split into two at the Elaborate portion of the lesson. During Phase I of this series, students work towards identifying and learning about environmental topics.

You can learn more about this series here.

You can access this lesson plan as a Google Doc here.

You can access an example of student work as a Google Doc here.


Time: 75 minutes

Materials: Teacher-supplied news articles (local or national) on the environmental topic.

Guiding Question: How have other communities approached this problem?

Objective: Introduce students to Community Science Networks while they explore data collection tools and methods.


Time: 10 minutes Brainstorm

Ask students how they're going to solve/study the environmental issue you're working on. Write down their ideas in a place that everyone can see, like a chalkboard or a shared Google Docs. Students should be encouraged to "like"/"plus one" an idea or to add on to another student's idea.


Time: 20 minutes

Take a look at how other community have conducted their studies. Students will use the examples of community science projects to take notes on the following topics:

  • Location
  • Environmental Issue
  • Tool/Method Used
  • Data Produced by Tool/Method
  • What did the data show/suggest?


Time: 15 minutes

Create a list of each method, and a one to two sentence description of what it is, how it's done, and what it makes.

For example: Balloon Mapping- You fly a camera high in the air using a helium balloon to create your own satellite imagery.

Ask students to explain how can we apply these tools/methodologies to our project and to select the most relevant tools/methods.


Time: 15 minutes

SWOT Analysis

(Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)

For each of the tools/methods you're considering, complete a SWOT analysis, answering questions like those below:

  • Strengths:
    • What do you like most about it?
  • Weaknesses:
    • What do you like least?
  • Opportunities:
    • What could it do more of?
  • Threats:
    • What could make this difficult to do?

As a group, consider the following: based on the problem, our limitations, and the time available to us, which tools/methods would be useful in our scenario?


Time: 15 minutes

Muddiest Point: Ask students to consider all that we've worked on so far, and identify the muddiest point? What is the least clear? What do we need to learn more about?

Students will share their muddiest point. Topics will be listed on the board, and tick marks added every time a topic comes up from additional students. The group can identify which topic or topics they need the most help on.

Post a Question: The group should author a question(s) on to find out more information. Students can get more information on the Q & A Wiki Page.

You can learn more about this series here.

You can access this lesson plan as a Google Doc here.

You can access an example of student work as a Google Doc here.

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