Exploring Canada with Citizen Science
Hacks to Enhance Family Travel and to become an Epic Canadian Explorer - The past year has shown us that people have a renewed interest in the outdoors, in pathways, and in the nature that can be found in our own backyards. We have all come to see that being a traveler and an explorer does not mean that you have to travel to exotic locations, visit distant parks, or spend a lot of money. Here in Canada there are amazing sights to be seen near to home, and a huge range of possibilities for exploration and discovery in our own communities. Therefore, all we actually need is simple curiosity!
So, if you are interested in getting yourself or your family to reconnect with nature? Want something for everyone do on the family camping or hiking trip? Looking for new free family activities at home? Want to shift family members away from video games and towards nature? Or perhaps you are interested in learning about your own backyard and community from a new perspective? Or, just maybe, you are a teacher or homeschooler looking for experiential activities to boost your STEM curriculum? Maybe you have always wanted to be an epic Canadian Explorer? Well then the answer to upping your regular walks and Canadian travel is Citizen Science!
Much like Geocaching and Video Games , Citizen Science, is a fun and free activity for every age and every level of experience which is easy to do with your cell phone! It is as easy as taking a quick picture and submitting it to become a contributing scientist and groundbreaking explorer!
The best part is that Citizen Science can be done anywhere across the world and across Canada! Indeed there are huge gaps in our scientific knowledge from areas across the nation that only you can fill in! Despite what Wikipedia and Google might lead us to believe there is still so much to discover and by contributing and learning new things you become an essential Canadian explorer!
"We can be ethical only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand, or otherwise have faith in."
So the first question is : what is a Citizen Scientist? Well simply put, a Citizen Scientist is anyone who makes observations about animals, plants or anything nature and then reports them online to help scientists understand how our wildlife populations are doing. This is great. This is a Canadian Explorer because it means anyone can do it - whether you are five years old or 95, whether you are an amateur or expert naturalist - as long as you love going outside, finding really cool things, and learning to identify what they are, you can be a Citizen Scientist.
Best of all, to be a Citizen Scientist and exploring nature, is for everyone! It doesn't matter where you are from, what your background or orientation is because nature is not in one special place, and it is not for one special person, nature is wherever someone is trying to find it. Nature is for everyone.
"Nature and the Outdoors are for EVERYONE!"
As such the pursuit of nature and time outdoors is enough to make you a birder, naturalist, a scientist, an explorer and an outdoors person. And the great thing is, it can be a lot of fun to do with the help of free apps for your phone!
Tips and Apps for Getting Started
To start being a Citizen Scientist and exploring Canada, is easy because there are several free apps that you can use to not only learn about nature, but also use to submit your observations. While there are a number of great ways to be a Citizen Scientist, the App we most often recommend to beginner naturalists and birders is iNaturalist, which is freely available for anyone with a mobile device to download and use
iNaturalist is great, because it is very simple to use. You take a photo of something in the natural world, and upload it to the App. You will then be presented with a series of photos you can compare your own with to help you identify what you took a picture of. Therefore, once you submit your photo, you'll get confirmation or a correction for your ID, and your observation will become valuable data that scientists can use to monitor our wildlife populations.
The other great thing about iNaturalist is that you can submit observations of almost anything in the natural world - birds, butterflies and other insects, bats, reptiles, mammals, trees and flowers – whatever you are interested in, this app will work with it.
Citizen Science and Gaming
In addition, the app also keeps track of your observations as a Canadian explorer. So you can build a life list of all of the species you've seen, and where you saw them. If you use iNaturalist Seek version of the app, which is great for kids, you will be invited to enter different challenges, and as you build up your collection of species you will earn badges for different achievements.
For anyone who plays video games or who has family members who love gaming, this might start to sound pretty familiar – you travel around collecting things, complete various challenges, compete with your friends, and earn achievements! So Citizen Science is a lot like video gaming, which is what many people love to do, but with several very important differences. It gets you outside and being active. It teaches you about birds and other wildlife, it helps you connect with the natural world, and it makes a huge contribution to conservation.
Nature and Citizen Science are a great way to bridge the divide between our digital world and the natural one, and they are the perfect tool to make exploration and outdoor adventure part of our everyday routine.
For people looking for other great Citizen Science ideas, projects, and apps a great place to look is SciStarter !
Family Travel, Exploration, and being a Canadian Explorer!
Through Citizen Science and your contributions not only are you discovering about nature and transforming some of your screen time into green time but you are using some of your time in your backyard, or at the lake, or at the campground to help scientists learn about the nation!
The wonderful thing about Citizen Science is the fact that your contributions and your actions have a huge positive impact beyond your own backyard! Many species, such as birds are migratory, which means that every spring when species migrate and every fall they return. This means that many of the species such as birds, butterflies, and bees that we see in our own backyards, and work hard to protect regionally, rely on other habitats as well as the ones we observe them in.
This means that any actions we take in our own backyards and communities have a profound impact on conservation efforts across the continent and help species from coast to coast to coast. In essence it means that our backyards are connected to essential ecosystems like the Boreal Forest and so as a Citizen Science in your community you have having an impact that extends well beyond your own backyard! With each contribution you become a better naturalist, a scientist and a contributing Canadian Explorer!
Canadian Travel and Exploration Ideas
To learn more about unique Canadian Travel opportunities be sure to regularly check out Eh Canada Travel for great insider advice and articles!
To read more about Citizen Science, Exploration or our 4 year #hike4birds across Canada on the Trans Canada Trail be sure to check out our Come Walk With Us blog!