NestWatch Lesson Plan Now Available

Expanding on our work with Students Discover, we will be rolling out several new citizen science-based lesson plans over the next couple of months on our Education page. We’ve focused on global, long-running citizen science projects and have worked closely with educators to create lesson plans aligned to Next Generation Science Standards.

Our goals are simple:

  • Engage students in citizen science so they have opportunities to:
    • Participate in authentic scientific research.
    • Feel ownership over their learning.
    • Be part of a growing community of citizen scientists.
    • Improve scientific literacy by understanding the process of science rather than just memorizing facts or doing canned science experiments wherein we […]
By |December 15th, 2014|Education|0 Comments

Before They Were Scientists: Corrie Moreau

Corrie Moreau grew up a city kid in the South. In middle school, she was on the dance team and marched in Mardi Gras parades while looking for ants in the cracks of the sidewalk outside her apartment. Read on to learn how she took her childhood love of ants and turned it into her full-time career, how she engages girls in science at The Field Museum and how her parents fostered confidence and creativity in her from a young age onward.

Lea: Where were you in middle school?

Corrie: I grew up in Louisiana. For me, the most awesome part […]

By |December 12th, 2014|Before They Were Scientists, Education|1 Comment

Meet the Cleanup Crew

Last week, you heard A LOT about the important role arthropods (particularly ants) play in removing food waste from the street medians and parks of New York City. Lead author of this new research study, Elsa Youngsteadt, even appeared on Science Friday to discuss the key findings.

We thought you might be interested in learning a little more about the ants who are doing the heavy lift on the food removal front. So this is a friendly little reminder that you can learn fun facts and natural history stories about the most common ants of Manhattan in a fabulous, […]

By |December 11th, 2014|ants, Urban Ecology|0 Comments

Engaging Students with eMammal

Check out this new video featuring Students Discover Kenan Fellow, Kelsie Armentrout, sharing her experiences about engaging students in science with eMammal camera traps! Inspired by her experience with the North Carolina Environmental Education program, she has continued to implement wildlife-based lessons in her classroom with eMammal. To find out more about becoming a certified North Carolina Environmental Educator, visit their website or watch the video below:

Video courtesy of North Carolina Environmental Education Certificate Program from North Carolina State Parks on Vimeo.

And if you’re a […]

By |December 9th, 2014|Education, Video|0 Comments

Before They Were Scientists: Chris Schell

While interviewing scientists about their middle school lives, I often encounter a recurring them: scientists didn’t realize until they were much older that they could spend their lives researching something that fascinated them as a kid. They perceived the job of “scientist” as something held by dead and gone people from decades before. My hope is that these interviews serve as inspiration for students who would otherwise struggle to see themselves in the scientific field.

Today’s interview is with Chris Schell, a PhD candidate in evolutionary biology, who has already accomplished a lot in his early academic career. In middle […]

By |December 5th, 2014|Before They Were Scientists, Education|0 Comments

Ants vs. Rats in NYC

Last year I got to take my first trip to New York City and spent most of my time in the medians of Broadway setting up field experiments with Dr. Elsa Youngsteadt and Dr. Amy Savage. Fast forward to this week when the paper resulting from their research is published:

Youngsteadt, E., Henderson, R. C., Savage, A. M., Ernst, A. F., Dunn, R. R. and Frank, S. D. (2014), Habitat and species identity, not diversity, predict the extent of refuse consumption by urban arthropods. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12791

Over at the EcoIPM blog, Elsa gives you […]

By |December 3rd, 2014|ants, News, Reading List, Urban Ecology, Video|0 Comments

Camel Cricket Poetry

The mail room of a science building is always an interesting place. We receive email notices like, “Your slime mold has arrived!” and “Live crickets in the mail room, no name.” And some days, our mail room is full of beautiful little dead bugs carefully packaged and sent special, just for us. Sometimes the mail room is full of poetry.

Today I opened a package containing both and I had to share [an excerpt]:

On more than one occasion, 
I have briefly observed them in what looked like 
predatory behavior, 
all occurring in the middle of […]

By |December 2nd, 2014|Behind the Scenes, Camel Crickets|1 Comment

Talking Turkey Parts

The male wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), weighing in at around 20 pounds, is one of the largest birds in North America. By comparison, many domestic turkeys — the kind you’ll likely be feasting on at the Thanksgiving table — weigh twice as much. Female wild turkeys are roughly half the size of the male.


The heads of male wild turkeys are featherless and colorful, with odd sounding structures: the snood, caruncles, and wattle. Their head can even change color depending on the turkey’s mood. Blue means “Hey, good lookin’!” Red means “I’m […]

By |November 26th, 2014|Nature in Your Backyard|0 Comments

The Most Important Map You Will Ever See

and other stories of the biogeography of pathogens

Among the greatest of the unwinnable debates among academics is the place of humans in nature. It is discussed around stumps in the field. It is discussed among philosophers. It is discussed with the knowing thump of a fist. It is discussed among each generation anew. We feel now, so separate, so different from them, the other species, the rest of life.

Of course we depend on the rest of life. Yet are we really still influenced by life’s fates in the way that, say, an oak tree might be? Surely if civilization gets […]

By |November 25th, 2014|Explainer, Reading List|4 Comments

Apply to be a 2015-2016 Kenan Fellow

The application process for the 2015-2016 cohort of Kenan Fellows is now open!

Watch this video to see what being a part of the Students Discover project meant to our first cohort of scientists and teacher-scientists. Learn how the Students Discover project directly relates to what you can do in your classroom and meet some of the scientists you’d be working with!

By |November 24th, 2014|Education, Jobs, Video|0 Comments

45 Things I’ve Learned about Science Since I was a Student

Editor’s note: At Your Wild Life we like to do public science, science in which we open the process of scientific discovery so that you can be a part of it. Sometimes that means citizen science. Other times it means science as art. And then there is today — today we are sharing with you Rob’s thoughts about some of the things no one tells you about being a faculty member, a scholar at a university. Maybe there are some insights in here about broader life, but certainly this list contains insights about the differences between how we imagine discovery […]

By |November 18th, 2014|Behind the Scenes, Explainer|3 Comments

Navel-gazing Newsflash

A few quick updates on Belly Button Biodiversity and related projects:

  • You can now download and take a gander at the second and final batch of data from Belly Button Biodiversity. The available file contains both taxonomic information (OTU tables) and meta-data self-reported from our last batch of participants. These are the same data we used to generate the interactive pie chart.

The Secret Life of Starbuck

Have you heard that Cat Tracker has now launched on Long Island? We’ve recently downloaded tracks from our first set of Long Island felines.

Meet Starbuck, a kitty from the suburbs of central Long Island. Starbuck’s home range may not reach as far as the local coffee shop, but this cat’s still pretty active. (Tracks are based on two consecutive 5-day tracking periods). Although coyotes haven’t yet established on Long Island, Starbuck does stick fairly close to home, not even venturing into the nearby woods.

Check out our growing collection of cat tracks from Long Island, including those […]

By |November 14th, 2014|Cat Tracker|0 Comments

Middle School Fossil Club Makes Real Discoveries

Recently, the buzz of excitement could be heard outside Exploris Middle School in downtown Raleigh. Members of the school’s Fossil Club, led by Students Discover 2014-2015 Kenan Fellow, Juliana Thomas, were sifting shark tooth fossils out of “fossil reject dirt” from the phosphate mine in Aurora, North Carolina.  I made my way, unnoticed, into the bustling room of 20 middle school students huddled over paper plates containing precious samples of shark teeth.

“I found another one!” exclaimed one student while holding up a miniscule, fossilized shark tooth from the sample in front of her. Another student proudly […]

By |November 12th, 2014|Education|2 Comments

A Study in Scarlet

No doubt you’ve been wowed this autumn by the crimson colors of the red maple (Acer rubrum)!

This tree, native to eastern North America, has grown even more numerous in the past 100 years. When the Chestnut Blight and Dutch Elm Disease swept through eastern deciduous forests, it opened up space for the hardy red maple to move in.

Add in the tree’s popularity in landscaping (and its tolerance to a wide range of environmental conditions: sunny or shady, high or low nutrients, dry or moist soil) and you have one of the most common trees in America!

By |November 10th, 2014|Nature in Your Backyard, Science Art|0 Comments