Project Squirrel

 
(i)

 

Learning(i)

Share squirrel observations as a citizen scientist.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Kids are empowered to take part in research in their own backyards.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

When entering observation data, your location is limited to your zip code. Users have the option of entering their email address but are not required to do so in order to participate.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Project Squirrel is a way for kids to do research on local squirrels. Collecting data is simple: Walk down a street and record the number and type of squirrels at regular intervals. If your streets are set up like a grid kids can just collect data at every intersection. Once kids collect the data, they enter it into the website by filling out a form that asks for their zip code and email address. Users can choose not to include their email address and their data will still be accepted. Involvement can range from entering data one time to volunteering to collect data regularly as part of a service project.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • animals
  • biology
  • ecosystems

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • collecting data
  • investigation

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

The project is limited to population investigations of squirrels, which may not be interesting for all kids. Though the site design isn't visually appealing, kids could still get wrapped up in collecting data for real research.

Learning Approach

Kids get to collect the data, but they don't see real time results or get to form their own conclusions.

Support

Extension guides for doing foraging experiments allow kids to take their investigation beyond just counting squirrels.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • animals
  • biology
  • ecosystems

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • collecting data
  • investigation

Kids can learn about ecology, conservation, and animal behavior. Project Squirrel lets kids be part of an actual research project in their own backyards. Unfortunately, unless you are part of the Greater Chicago Area, your data isn't included in the research team’s conclusions. Though the site isn't visually appealing, kids could still get wrapped up in collecting data for real research.

This Learning Rating review was written by Emily Pohlonski

Parents say

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What's it about?

PROJECT SQUIRREL uses squirrel observations to help kids understand the ecology of the Chicago area ecosystem along with other parts of the United States. Users collect and report data about the location and number of grey and fox squirrels. Project Squirrel also provides directions for how to set up feeding stations at your home. Kids set up multiple locations with varied levels of risk for the squirrels. Then they collect information about where the squirrels feed more often, weighing risks with the benefit of the food.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Project Squirrel may not be as visually appealing as the more popular citizen science site, Project Noah, but it does provide kids with opportunities that move beyond simply counting and locating squirrels. Kids can follow detailed instructions for setting up data gathering stations to observe squirrel behavior in food gathering. Site reports on data from thousands of users presents interesting conclusions. It would be nice if kids could see the raw data from all users and watch how it grows in real time. This would give kids the opportunity to form their own conclusions from the data.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why squirrels are good animals to investigate. For example, they are easy to see because they are out during the day and require resources that lots of other animals need too. If our squirrel population is dropping what does that tell us about other animals?

  • Families can also talk about ways we can protect squirrels and other animals. What choices are you making that might impact the squirrels?

  • For families who want to take part in conservation and protect the environment, check out our Going Green Online list of websites.

Website details

Genre:Educational
Topics:Science and nature
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Project Squirrel was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old June 24, 2013
 

Confusing

I tried out this website, just to see what to do. Basically, you press a button to fill out a squirrel report or something and you have to include lots of stuff like where you saw it, when, what it was doing, WHAT TREE IT WAS IN... So this website would probably be 100% confusing for anybody age 8 + under. This is confusing even for me, a ten year old!

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