“It’s quite difficult to protect a species if you are unaware of where it is located!” That’s the simplest explanation that Dr. Heather Cunningham, state coordinator of The Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas (MARA), can give as to why her massive citizen science project is so important.
The MARA project aims to document the current distribution of all amphibian and reptile species in Maryland, and in Calvert County alone, they’ve enlisted 1300 seventh graders to help out!
Not only does this help the state get a better picture of their population density, but it also educates students on the importance of these creatures.
Students participating in the MARA project are given an informative handbook with species information, activities, and project ideas. Using Google Earth and Wildlife Acoustics SM2+ recorders (which they call their FrogLoggers), they record and identify calls which they use to input species data onto a state database. Students are encouraged to enter their photos, observations, and publish their findings on the shared Calvert FrogBlog.
Watch this video for a peek at the student citizen science project:
The SM2+ has been very successful in the Calvert County School system, and we hope the same will be true for our Echo Meter Touch, as iPad learning becomes more commonplace in the classroom.