Science Action Club is a program developed by the California Academy of Sciences for students in grades 5-8. It is designed for out-of-school settings like after-school clubs and summer camps. SAC engages students in citizen science projects to collect data for large, ongoing research projects. It also includes 12 sets of hands-on activities that allow students to explore more about the subjects of their research.

There are three topics: Cloud Quest, Bird Scout, and Bug Safari.

In Cloud Quest students learn about clouds, weather, and satellite observation. They use this knowledge while making observations on clouds and atmospheric conditions. Their observations are uploaded to NASA via an app on smart phones or tablets. NASA uses the students’ data to ground-truth satellite data in a long-term research project to better understand how clouds and climate interact.

In Bird Scout students make observations on the birds in their community, noting species, behavior, and numbers. Birds are identified using the Merlin ID app. The students’ data are sent to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology through the eBird app where the data are used in long-term research on changes in bird numbers and distribution. Students also engage in a variety of activities to learn about birds, their biology, and ecology.

In Bug Safari students collect insects, spiders, and other arthropods in their surroundings. They identify them as best they can and take a photograph using a smart phone or tablet. The photographs are uploaded onto iNaturalist, a social media site for research scientists. The scientists further identify the specimens in the photographs and communicate with the students about their finds. iNaturalist is helping scientists develop a better understanding of arthropod biodiversity. Students also learn about insects and spiders through hands-on activities and art projects.

Educators can be trained in these three curricula and purchase kits that include all the teaching materials and research equipment needed to complete the activities and collect data. The training can be done online through the California Academy of Science website or in-person through WyAEE. For more information, contact Sue McGuire at WyAEE.