Who’s in My House?

Tiny rustling noises arise from our kitchen garbage can. I tip-toe up to it and out pops a little fuzzy face with a twitching nose. Then it’s gone… and I head to the closet for a couple live traps.

Many mice and voles have made my house their own over the years (before I gently suggest they live elsewhere).

Is my new tenant a MOUSE or a VOLE?

Need a hint?
MICE have long tails, long snouts, long ears and protruding eyes.
VOLES have short tails and teddy bear faces with small, rounded ears, button eyes and a smooshed snout.

Curious about what’s the […]

By | January 13th, 2015|Nature in Your Backyard, Science Art, Urban Ecology|0 Comments

Starry Night Lesson Plan Now Available

Expanding on our work with Students Discover, we’re rolling out several new citizen science-based lesson plans on our Education page. Before the holidays, we released a NestWatch Lesson Plan, inspired by the long-standing citizen science project from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. In the coming months, we’ll continue to release new lesson plans focused on global, long-running citizen science projects, 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 […]
By | January 13th, 2015|Education|0 Comments

Before They Were Scientists: Holly Menninger

Not every scientist got their inspiration from their science classes — in fact many have gleaned inspiration from museums, family trips or extracurricular opportunities that they had when they were younger. Dr. Holly Menninger got her start in science communication speaking to groups of visitors at the Cincinnati Museum Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. While sitting down to talk to her about middle school, I noted a subtle Midwestern accent emerged as she excitedly described her experiences and reflected on time spent with her family and important mentors.

Lea: Tell me about your middle school setup to get us started.

Holly: I […]

By | January 9th, 2015|Before They Were Scientists, Education|0 Comments

New Year, New Updates from Cat Tracker

The start of the new year seems like a good occasion to update you on Cat Tracker, our citizen science project that uses GPS technology to study the movement and home ranges of owned domestic cats. We launched in May 2014 in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina and in the last year, our program has grown to include a GPS unit loaning program in Long Island, New York, and parts of Connecticut.

For those outside our GPS loaning zones, we have a DIY option where cat owners can purchase and deploy their own GPS units and then […]

By | January 8th, 2015|Cat Tracker|1 Comment

ICYMI: Holiday Break Edition

Happy New Year! Classes are back in swing today here at NC State and we’re slowly but surely digging ourselves out from under the pile of emails that accumulated over the winter break.

A few exciting research developments and stories emerged while we were on our holiday hiatus, and we thought we should dedicate our first post in 2015 to catching you up those items you may have missed:

The Truth About What Makes Us Human (and Writing Books)

New analyses of chimpanzees and humans reveal them to be far more different than suspected, perhaps as much as 95% different.

Sometimes it takes time to see something clearly. This is especially true in writing a book. Book writing, even non-fiction book writing, is voodoo magic. It is a pot of incantations out of which emerges the animal with which one must wrestle in mornings, afternoons, evenings and dreams.

Book writing begins under reasonable control. A proposal emerges. The proposal includes a table of contents; the table of contents is pushed this way and that by, if you are lucky, an […]

By | December 27th, 2014|Books, Explainer|0 Comments

Happy Holidays from Your Wild Life!

Want a chance to win a custom Your Wild Life 2014 ornament? We’ve got a little holiday cheer to share in the form of handmade wooden ornaments inspired by the Arthropods of Our Homes project and the crafts of summer camp. Comment on this blog post with a story about the bugs you’ve seen in and around your home (if you’re having trouble giving those bugs a name, refer to this handy guide to identify the common insects) and we’ll randomly select a commenter to receive one of these custom ornaments to adorn your home on midnight December 31, […]

By | December 24th, 2014|Your Wild Life Team|0 Comments

A Whole New Way of Doing Citizen Science, Maybe

Some parts of science are boring. Some are tedious. Some seem as though they will never end. It is these parts of science we tend to try to enlist the public in helping with.

You can, of course, listen for birds as part of the Breeding Bird Survey, count butterflies as part of the 4th of July butterfly counts, or set out cookie crumbs to collect urban ants for our School of Ants project. These endeavors are delightful ways to engage nature. They are also relatively easy ways to participate in science. But in collecting and contributing these […]

By | December 19th, 2014|Homes, Participate, Wild Life of Our Home|1 Comment

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|2 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|2 Comments