Stewardship—Citizen Biomonitoring

Summary: Students contribute to the scientific understanding of a local ecosystem by collecting data and reporting results to the community.

Concepts to teach: Stewardship, action, process of scientific inquiry

Goals: Students engage in scientific inquiry and come to see themselves as scientists as they collect and report data about a local outdoor site.

S3.3S.1, S3.3S.2, S.3.3S.3
S4.3S.1, S4.3S.2, S4.3S.3
S5.3S.1, S5.3S.2, S5.3S.3, S5.4D.1

Specific Objectives:

  1. Adopt a local outdoor site and collect data that describes the health of the ecosystem.
  2. Gain experience with the use of scientific equipment, data collection and reporting.
  3. Draw conclusions and recommendations about the health of the ecosystem based on biomonitoring activities.

Activity Links and Resources:

  • This Land is Your Land—In this classroom activity from an earlier topic guide, students use their land use maps and use them to determine where to place a structure that will have the least amount of negative impact on the environment.
    • Consider adapting or extending this idea to a current land use issue that is affecting your school (ie, where should we place the new sports equipment shed?)
  • Conduct invasive species surveys in the schoolyard or nearby lands. Share surveys and maps of invasive species occurrence with land managers, city officials, and through invasive species reporting websites.
  • StreamWebs—This student stewardship network from OSU Extension provides open-source, web-based tools for watershed data management, analysis, and networking for teachers and students. Includes data sheets for mapping riparian habitats, canopy cover and pebble counts, etc. This tool is primarily for middle and H.S. level students, but simple assessments (ie, water temperature) could be addressed and reported by upper elementary grades.


  • Use the open-ended Draw-A-Scientist Test (DAST) to assess student attitudes about what scientists look like, and to determine the extent to which they see themselves as scientists. Scoring rubric example: DAST Rating Rubric
  • Present data findings to land managers, city officials, and/or data reporting websites.