From the Wild to Your Classroom
Instant Wild invites you to contribute to conservation research from your computer. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) launched Instant Wild nearly a decade ago to help researchers analyze camera trap data and concurrently engage the public in wildlife conservation.
Today, over three million observations have been made on Instant Wild, and the platform includes 14 unique project field sites (see “Instant Wild Project Collection” under Helpful Project Links). The ZSL describes Instant Wild as “conservation at your fingertips,” and National Geographic has recently joined the project partnership. One of the first project sites associated with the National Geographic partnership was the Osa Camera Trap Network in Costa Rica. This network spans two National Parks as well as a forest reserve corridor that connects the two parks (see “Osa Conservation” and “Osa Camera Trap Network”). The area is home to the jaguar and a number of other wild cats (see Figure 1).
Instant Wild’s Osa Camera Trap Network project is interested in tracking native wild cats and their prey; your students can be a part of this exciting study! With Instant Wild citizen science, learners are able to participate in wildlife conservation research from the classroom or any location with computer access.
Project goal: Help researchers track the abundance of wildlife species, such as wild cats and their prey, in Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula area.
Your task: Contribute to conservation science and increase knowledge of wildlife species.
Science discipline: Life and Environmental Science
Instant Wild projects include images that are generated from motion-sensored camera traps. Camera trap images can be thought of as “wildlife selfies,” and the devices are not disruptive to the animal or its behavior. When an animal passes by the camera, the device takes a photo, and the photo is shared on Instant Wild for identification.
To introduce the concept of camera traps and wildlife conservation to your class, begin with a guided whole-class activity. First, choose a photo from the Instant Wild project database and share the wildlife image with your class (see “Instant Wild Project Collection”). Ask students to generate observations based on viewing the image. Then, invite learners to share their observations with the class. After the class shares out, ask students what additional questions they may have from looking at the image. Discuss the questions as a class.
Instant Wild has an online tutorial; however, students can begin the project without training, as best guesses for species identification are accepted (see “Instant Wild Tutorial”). An account is not needed to participate in the project, but with an account, students will be able to accumulate points and earn badges for their work. Badges will be earned at milestones, such as the number of endangered species documented as well as the total number of identifications made over time.
Encourage students to brainstorm what else could be done with the data that are associated with the camera trap images—for example, have students think about diverse ways in which the data could be visualized.
As a final wrap-up activity, challenge students to design a hypothetical camera trap study for their local geographic area. The study site(s) could include the schoolyard, a backyard, a local park, or other site(s) of interest. Ask students to discuss possible research questions to test, along with hypotheses, proposed materials and methods, and plans for data collection and dissemination of findings. Class discussions related to camera trap conservation science often lead to meaningful connections and insights at the confluence of conservation science, technology, and data. Students may have novel ideas to address real-world challenges facing wildlife in the 21st century using technology tools and data visualization. Finally, June involves World Environment Day (and Selfie Day!), and both days can be celebrated with memorable Instant Wild citizen science in the classroom (see “Instant Wild World Selfie Day”). •
How: Participants can get started online without creating an account; however, creating an account can help students earn badges marking milestones in their work. See “Project Home” and the “Project Page on SciStarter” to create an account.
Time needed: Variable; 30 minutes to as much time as desired
Special equipment needed: None
Cost: No cost to participate
Contact for more information: email@example.com
Safety: As with any science lab, classroom, or field activity, always ensure that you are following recommended safety practices; for more information on safety in the science classroom visit www.nsta.org/safety.
Instant Wild Project Home—https://instantwild.zsl.org/intro
Instant Wild Project Collection—https://instantwild.zsl.org/projects
Osa Camera Trap Network Project Home—https://instantwild.zsl.org/projects/osa-CTN
Instant Wild Tutorial—https://instantwild.zsl.org/task/95049
Instant Wild Overview Video—https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C05smXirOaI
Osa Camera Trap Network—https://osaconservation.org/projects/wildlife/osa-camera-trap-network/
Project page on SciStarter—https://scistarter.org/osa-camera-trap-network
Project page on SciStarter Education—https://scistarter.org/education/osa-camera-trap-network-education
Video: Getting Started with Instant Wild—https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMOGT1AuMM8
Video: Instant Wild Program overview from SciStarter Educator Webinar—https://youtu.be/cqydIgvskBM?t=960
Instant Wild World Selfie Day—https://biomeecology.com/conservation/2020/06/4748/
Citizen Science Environmental Science Technology Middle School
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