EXPLORE: OBSERVATION

Citizen Science in the Smokies

Help Scientists by Collecting and Sharing Your Observations

Have you heard of citizen science? Increasingly, parks, museums, and other organizations are collecting valuable scientific information with the help of people who aren’t necessarily trained as professional scientists. In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, citizen scientists of all ages have played a role in different projects throughout the years. See how you can contribute!

Citizen Science Projects

OBSERVING STREAMS & RIVERS

Exploring 3,000 miles of Smokies Streamlife

Ideal for all ages with adult assistance for younger kids. You don’t need to go to a coral reef to experience colorful fish and the amazing diversity of aquatic life. Watch these videos and then get inspired to explore a stream or river near you. And don’t forget your snorkel the next time you visit a mountain river.

RIVER OBSERVATION LESSON

From Parks As Classrooms, Grades 4-6

Observation is an important part of any scientific study. Before you start the River Observation activity, take a moment to read the Water Quality Monitoring Fact Sheet provided by scientists at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

STREAMS & RIVERS

Exploring 3,000 miles of Smokies Streamlife

Ideal for all ages with adult assistance for younger kids. You don’t need to go to a coral reef to experience colorful fish and the amazing diversity of aquatic life. Watch these videos and then get inspired to explore a stream or river near you. And don’t forget your snorkel the next time you visit a mountain river.

STREAMS & RIVERS

Exploring 3,000 miles of Smokies Streamlife

Ideal for all ages with adult assistance for younger kids. You don’t need to go to a coral reef to experience colorful fish and the amazing diversity of aquatic life. Watch these videos and then get inspired to explore a stream or river near you. And don’t forget your snorkel the next time you visit a mountain river.

Observing Cycles

Astronomy & Phenology

Good for all ages. First and foremost, scientists look and listen. Make observations about the moon you see in the night sky and the sounds you hear in your backyard to learn how this information can be useful.

Shadows and Suntracks

Exploring the Path of the Sun

What can your shadow tell you about the location of the sun overhead? Join us as we explore our shadows and track the path of the sun with the help of rangers from Alaska to the Virgin Islands.

Download the Activity

Moon Observation

How to Create a Moon Journal

Good for all ages. Take a journey through the night sky to learn about the features of the moon, become a scientist by tracking its changes from day to day, and indulge your curiosity by pondering your own night sky questions.

Activities

Keeping Track of the Night Sky

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a wonderful place to remove yourself from bright lights at night and allow a truly amazing view of our beautiful moon. Observing the stars and the moon have long been important to people throughout history and all over the world. Sailors use the stars to help navigate, travelers use the stars to help tell direction at night, the moon provides light for all of us at night, controls the tides of the ocean and even farmers watch the night sky to help determine planting. Before you start the activities, see how important our moon and stars were to farmers here in the Great Smoky Mountains! LEARN MORE

Create a Backyard Sound Map

At home with Ranger Rhonda

See how to create a soundmap of your own backyard! Join Ranger Rhonda (and her trusty canine partner) for a Smokies ‘Parks as Classroom’ experience at home. Look, listen and enjoy a fun journaling activity. It is simple to do so get ready to tune into the sounds that abound all around you!

What is Phenology?

Observing Nature’s Calendar in Your Neighborhood

Phenology is the study nature’s calendar. It’s a method for tracking the important annual changes in the lives of plants and animals. This video explains how you can help collect data in a nationwide project to collect phenology data in your backyard; similar to how a group of volunteers are doing so in Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s Citizen Science Program.

Phenology Activity

From NatureBridge ‘Outside Still Open’ Series

Explore your own backyard or nearby natural areas to observe and document natural phenomena such as buds opening, leaves opening, birds returning, bird songs, etc. and notice how these natural phenomena change over time.

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Observing the Environment

Are We Being Good Stewards?

For Upper Elementary Students and up. Students use the power of observation to collect data and make inferences about the impact of humans on the natural environment.

SENSORY SCAVENGER HUNT

Go outside and explore!

A guided exploration of your backyard using the NatureBridge 1st – 4th grade activity “Sensory Scavenger Hunt.”

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Parks As Classrooms Activity

Scientists from all over the world come to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to study the biodiversity of the park. Unfortunately, our love of our park has also brought some negative impacts from human interactions in many forms of pollution, including acid rain. Before completing the activity, take a moment to learn more about water quality and air quality concerns in Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

WATER QUALITY FACTOR
AIR QUALITY FACTOR

Air Aware

Monitoring Air Pollution in the Smokies

For Upper Elementary Students and up. A virtual data collection activity on the Hands on the Land website that uses real images from plants in the Smokies that show visible symptoms of damage due to Ground level Ozone. Watch a fun video to learn about air pollution in the park and then see how we monitor impacts on sensitive plants in the park.

‘Air Yeah’ Lyrics

Abiotic

Worthy of Respect

Best for Upper Elementary and up. Abiotic – it’s all around us and so critical to all life on this planet. Learn more about the abiotic world around you through a music video and an activity to find your Ecosystem Address.

WHAT IS MY ECOSYSTEM ADDRESS?

DOWNLOAD THE ACTIVITY

Community Naturalists

Do you have what it takes to become a naturalist?
Hint: you do!

Start with Notice like a Naturalist and then experiment with the Know Your Neighbors mini-guides and the post activities to practice your observation skills! These activities are perfect for your family, friends, students, or just to try on your own! Activities are recommended for grade levels 5 – 8.

Community Naturalists Activities

VISIT

SMOKIES LIVE

Check out the collaborative virtual magazine for Smokies lovers brought to you by Smokies Life and Great Smoky Mountains Association.

LEARN MORE