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Activities: biodiversity fieldwork

Hint: the background information that will help you complete these activities is found in the videos and articles.
1.     Congratulations! You have just won a contest that gives you the opportunity to lead your own biodiversity expedition!  Write your answers to the following questions: Where would you like to go and why? What are the top five questions you would like to ask scientists to help you prepare for a successful and exciting trip?
2.     This activity lets you practice categorizing living organisms. Go outside in your neighborhood and collect 12 different types of leaves. Try to select leaves that are very different from each other in their shape, size, color, smoothness, etc.  Bring the leaves inside, spread them out and look carefully at them all, comparing their different characteristics. Decide on a way to separate them into two or three categories based on physical characteristics such as size, shape, color, or texture.  For example you might have two categories based on whether they are long and thin or they are rounded. Or maybe there are three categories such as dark green, light green, or a mixture of light and dark green on a single leaf. Make a label for each category and then place each leaf by the appropriate label. Take a picture for documentation. Now put the leaves back into one pile and mix them up. Categorize them again using different characteristics, and again take a picture for documentation. If you are working with a friend who has the same type of leaves, see if they categorized the leaves the same way that you did, or give them your categories and see if they sort the leaves the same way you did. Based on your experience with this activity, what insights does it give you about why it is important for scientists to clearly explain their methods and freely share information when comparing and categorizing organisms?
3.     Life is all around us.  Anyone with a camera or cell phone can capture images of interesting organisms wherever they are. iNaturalist is a helpful and fun online platform where you can share your images with others, have the community of online users help identify your organisms, learn about other organisms whose pictures have been posted by other people, and join this online community of people interested in the natural world. Check out iNaturalist at http://www.inaturalist.org/observations and explore pictures and information about organisms from around the world, or sign up and upload your own images.
4.     Citizen science is a great way for people to help with scientific research and learn more about the natural world.  Check out the selected references to learn more about citizen science projects. You can also visit http://scistarter.com to choose a topic of interest or a place you want to explore.  After entering this information, choose a citizen science project that interests you.  Get involved and tell others how to do the same.

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