By Kerry Stevison
Twelve teenagers from the Youth Exploring Science (YES) Program at the Saint Louis Science Center are using their citizen science projects to learn more about climate change in their own area. The teens were recruited for the YES Program from various community groups in St. Louis that work with underserved populations. Once in the program, the teens choose a component and get to work using science to benefit themselves and society. Those working on the climate change project are studying the effects on frogs and butterflies.
Frogs, especially, are suffering around the globe right now. Climate change is affecting them in three ways: by altering the timing of their calls in spring (Gibbs and Breisch, 2001), by causing ponds in some areas to dry up (McMenamin et al., 2008), and by aiding the global spread of the lethal chytrid fungus (Pounds et al., 2006). These problems compound the already precipitous amphibian declines around the world.
The teens make trips to a nearby pond on Saturday evenings during the spring and record frog calls. Their data is entered into FrogWatch, a nationwide database for frog research. After three years of gathering data, they will analyze their results. The teens also spread the word about climate change through activities in the Saint Louis Science Center, summer programs for children, and even a professional development workshop for teachers.
You can learn more about FrogWatch by visiting their Website.
Kerry Stevison is a senior educator at the Saint Louis Science Center, St. Louis, Missouri.