Citizen Biomonitoring

Stewardship—Citizen Biomonitoring

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

Concepts to teach: Stewardship, action, water quality, 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.

S.06.3S.1, S.06.3S.2, S06.3S.3
S.07.3S.1, S.07.3S.2, 7.3S.3
S.08.3S.1, S.08.3S.2

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:

  • 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. See the Nonpoint Source Pollution topic guide for more information.
    • Report water quality findings online on the StreamWebs website. Partner with another class who can do similar sampling at the same site or at at site upstream/downstream from your sample location. Compare and contrast findings between classrooms.
    • Report water quality findings to city government and/or local watershed councils.
  • National Geographic Field Scope—A web-based mapping, analysis and collaboration tool supporting student citizen scientists.
  • Testing salinity: Make your own hydrometer, available with many other ocean education materials on UCLA Marine Science Center’s OceanGLOBE webpages.


  • 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
  • Compare pre- and post- pictures to determine whether students see themselves as scientists, and whether their concept of what “doing science” has expanded to include a wider variety of participants.