A mix of citizen science and things to watch or play.
It’s Earth Day! To celebrate we’ve gathered together some ideas on how you might mark the occasion despite being in quarantine. Get ready to see some animals, go outside, or get messy and make mistakes.
Count Some Animals
Citizen science is often used with labour intensive tasks such as documenting the number of animals in an image. Two of our favourite projects that are near the three quarters mark are the Penguin Watch and Spotting Spider Monkeys.
In Penguin Watch you are tasked with looking at images snapped of penguins and counting the birds, their eggs, and any other animals (including people!) you find. Spotting Spider Monkeys is a similar process but instead of snapshots you’re taking a gander at thermal scans penetrating the treeline and identifying the bright spots as spider monkeys.
Both sets of researchers assert that their work will help reveal more about both the species studied and their respective habitats.
Safely Remove Litter
If you’re in a climate where the snow is finally retreating you might notice a season’s worth of litter deposited around town. While COVID-19 rages on, it’s important we clean our communities, as debris can create other public health risks.
Follow the advice of your municipality on how to proceed with litter clean-ups. Larger centres may be providing gloves, garbage bags, and hand sanitizer to volunteers to ensure they are safe.
Whether there’s a global pandemic or not, safety is a priority when dealing with litter: Don’t pick up sharps (like needles), enter bodies of water to retrieve items, and leave natural materials such as bones or dead birds behind.
Wearing sunscreen, bug spray, and closed toe footwear should complement your gloves. Work in partners and be cautious near roadways, train tracks, and other high traffic areas.
While you’re out…
We’re both encouraging you to count animals and get outside and contribute to your community. There’s a way to do both! eBird is a bird watcher’s paradise that encourages users to submit counts of any birds they see and hear in their local area. This is also a phenomenal resource to see which birds in your region are known the world over, to be in awe at some amazing nature photography, and to be a part of a larger birding community.
Try An Experiment
We’ve been running lots of science experiments in part because it’s fun and in part because we have many of the ingredients at home. We really like this Air Pollution Catcher DIY though we’re a little grossed out by the results. This simple experiment using celery to show how plants are affected by pollution is a visible reminder. If you have a few more science-y things on hand, such as slides or petri dishes, you can collect air samples. To extend the activity, after looking at your samples, seal your sample for 48 hours and place under the microscope. You might have started your own bacteria farm!
Watch A Nature Documentary
There’s no shortage of nature documentaries available but we want to highlight a few options:
- EarthX is hosting nature documentaries and shorts at select times through the rest of the month. See their offerings here.
- Giant Screen Films has made a limited selection of their films available. We really liked Wild Ocean.
- Disney+ dropped two new nature documentaries titled Elephant and Dolphin Reef. You may consider other Disney+ offerings such as WALL-E or Moana that also tell tell stories about conservation.
There’s no shortage of things to do if you’re stuck at home celebrating this Earth Day. Be safe, have fun, and get outside if you can!