Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students become citizen scientists and discover how communities can be engaged in important scientific work. Students investigate Earthwatch’s ClimateWatch program and app, and assess the benefits these programs may bring to both the community and biodiversity. Students then head outside to use the ClimateWatch app, familiarising themselves with the actions required to identify species from the app in their schoolyard.

This lesson has been developed in partnership with Earthwatch. Earthwatch developed the ClimateWatch program with the Bureau of Meteorology and The University of Melbourne to understand how changes in temperature and rainfall are affecting the seasonal behaviour of Australia’s plants and animals. 



Learning intention:

  • Students engage with citizen science to investigate phenology and climate change.

21st century skills:

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 7 Science

  • Science knowledge can develop through collaboration across the disciplines of science and the contributions of people from a range of cultures (ACSHE223)

Year 8 Science

  • Science knowledge can develop through collaboration across the disciplines of science and the contributions of people from a range of cultures (ACSHE226)

Syllabus outcomes: SC4-17CW.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.1, OI.2.

Relevant parts of Year 7 Science achievement standards: Students describe situations where scientific knowledge from different science disciplines has been used to solve a real-world problem.

Relevant parts of Year 8 Science achievement standards: Students describe situations in which scientists collaborated to generate solutions to contemporary problems.

Topic: Biodiversity, Climate Change.

Unit of work: ClimateWatch: Citizen Science – Science – Years 7 & 8.

Time needed: 60 minutes.

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – oversee indoor and outdoor activities and lead students in discussion.

Resources required: Hats, sunscreen. Student Worksheet – one copy per student. Device capable of presenting a website to the class. Tablets with ClimateWatch app installed.

To run this lesson without the use of devices, a range of species guides can be downloaded from the ClimateWatch Species webpage and the Species Recording list (adapted from the Gold Coast Regional Botanical Gardens ClimateWatch Trail resource). Print one Species Recording List per student and a range of plant and animal species likely to be in your area for use in groups of 3-4 students. 

Additional Resources:

If you would like to further your professional development in the fields covered by this lesson, Earthwatch recommends the following online articles

Keywords: Earthwatch, ClimateWatch, citizen science, biodiversity, climate change, environment, citizen science, app.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation

Learning intentions:

  • Students engage with citizen science to investigate phenology and climate change.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... discuss connections between phenology and climate change.
  • ... identify connections between citizen science and scientific knowledge in complementary fields.
  • ... use the ClimateWatch app to collect data.

Teacher content information: ClimateWatch is a citizen science initiative developed by Earthwatch that seeks to educate people from across Australia on the issue of climate change and empower them to contribute to solutions. Through its ClimateWatch program, Earthwatch works with educators to help them bring their experiences back to the classroom to foster new generations of environmental leaders. By incorporating ClimateWatch into curriculum, students and teachers will become more knowledgeable about climate change and its impacts, and inspired to contribute to scientific and environmental efforts in their d

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: Citizen science can be described as scientific work that is undertaken by the general public. This work is usually overseen by professional scientists who devise the work, collaborate with the public and provide guidance.

What is ClimateWatch and what does the ClimateWatch app do?

Working in your groups, use Earthwatch's ClimateWatch app to answer the following questions (note: you can discuss your ideas in your pairs, however each student needs to record their own answers): 

  1. What is the purpose of this app?

  1. What does the app do?

  1. How does this app help contribute to our understanding of how climate change is affecting biodiversity?

      4. Is there anything in the app that you do not understand or any words you would like to look up?


Work independently to complete the following reflection questions:

1. What are three things I learnt about in this lesson?
2. What are two things I found interesting in this lesson?
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