Community Science at Tremont Institute
At Tremont, we are using community science as an invaluable tool to connect people with nature. Hands-on experience with real research projects engages and excites students and volunteers. The knowledge that they have helped scientists learn something new about Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a memory that stays with students for a long time. They develop a sense of ownership for the projects and realize that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. If you have been coming to Tremont for a while, you’ve probably already been doing community science, perhaps as part of our weather monitoring study or our salamander monitoring projects.
We have several core on-going research projects as well as smaller projects that are done on an occasional basis. The specific mix of projects varies seasonally and from year-to-year. Many of them relate to the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI), a long-term study aimed at identifying and mapping all 80,000+ species in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All of our projects are real research; the data students and volunteers collect are maintained and shared with park managers and scientists.
During the summer months, students have the opportunity to observe, explore, and investigate while creating their own research project during our Smokies Science Investigations summer program. This program blends the best of science camps into a short one-week summer experience. Below are a few examples of their research presentations.
If you haven’t already been involved in a community science project at Tremont, now is your chance! The time of year you will be at Tremont and the age of your students or group will affect which projects are most appropriate for your group. Some of the projects can be done with all your students, and some are most appropriate for a small, select group of budding scientists that need an extra challenge. Some of the projects can be done as a part of one of our regular lessons, and some can be done as entire lessons of their own.
Click here to learn about our new teacher program: Citizen Science 2.0 in National Parks. Tremont Institute’s partnership with Great Smoky Mountains National Park will provide citizen science engagement for students and deliver professional development for teachers. Made possible thanks to a $1 million Veverka Family Foundation donation to the National Park Foundation’s Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks.
Community science (formerly called citizen science—read why we made the change in name) is public participation in scientific research. It is a useful tool for both educators and scientists. The research process begins with posing questions for investigation and includes hypothesizing, designing methods, and collecting and analyzing data. It culminates in sharing research findings with other people. Students, teachers, and other community members can be involved with one or more of these steps.