Hilltown Families


Hubble Gazes at a Galactic Menagerie (cc) NASA

Galaxy Zoo, a web-based citizen science opportunity, asks participants to support researchers in learning about how galaxies form. Citizen scientists participating in Galaxy Zoo are shown pictures of galaxies and asked to classify them based on their shape. In essence, some of these pictures are of galaxies yet to be seen by any other human being, meaning participants might get to be the first to ever them! Galaxy Zoo is used by… Read More


Citizen science can connect us with nature, learn about phenology, practice gathering data, and learn the basics of experimental design.

Families can explore and map local vernal pools all on their own! The process of inspecting, mapping, and tracking present species is quite a project to undertake as a family, but is one that can provide endless opportunities for learning and exploration of the natural world.

A bioblitz can offer students a unique hands-on learning experience that will make them more aware of the amount of biodiversity in their neighborhood and will teach them to identify new species. Communities will benefit from the events as well – neighbors can gain a greater awareness of what’s in their backyards, and perhaps even become better connected to the natural world that surrounds them!

What have you missed over on our Facebook page? Check out some of our top posts from this past week!

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Science & Education Episode with Danny Weinkauf of They Might Be Giants LISTEN TO PODCAST:   Danny Weinkauf guest DJs this week, demonstrating though song examples and commentary his love of science and education, and how it has influenced his favorite songs and personal writing style. − www.dannyweinkauf.com Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am September 23rd & 24th, 2017 WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA Featured video:   “I am a… Read More

Despite the damage that invasive flora and fauna do to our local landscape, invasive species can serve as a community-based resource for citizen science, community service, and studies of environmental science. From identification to eradication, invasive species present unique educational opportunities!

Organized by Elms College, BioBlitz 2016 offers an important opportunity to engage in citizen science in Chicopee! Designed to identify and record as many species of living things as possible, the BioBlitz provides experiential learning opportunities for novice naturalists!

Offering three seasons’ worth of experiential learning in the local landscape, the Pioneer Valley Citizen Science Collaboratory provides unique opportunities to engage in meaningful scientific research geared specifically towards generating a better understanding of the local landscape and the impact of humans upon it. By participating in the collaboratory’s projects, families can be a part of research that will have a lasting impact on western Massachusetts!

Generally reserved for experiential projects centered around data collection or observation, citizen science offers to public a means of becoming part of the world of scientific discovery. Two unique projects offer citizen scientists a language-based means of engaging with the world of science: by transcribing field notes, journals, and specimen labels, volunteers can help make over a century’s worth of scientific information accessible to the world!

Just in time for the awakening of amphibian species, Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary offers a training on the FrogWatch citizen science project! Using this and other resources, families can learn about local species of frogs and salamanders and can engage in important conservation work.

Affectionately dubbed man’s best friend, dogs have a special place in human society. Through museum exhibits, opportunities for service-based learning, and psychology-centric citizen science, families can engage in meaningful studies of all things dog!

Being accessible to everyone, everywhere, at all times, the sky is the ultimate community-based educational resource! Using a wealth of resources from books to apps, citizen science to local planetariums, families can explore outer space together and learn experientially about the sky above us.

Springtime brings many migratory bird species back to western Massachusetts and, as these feathered friends return, opportunities for citizen science centered around species preservation arise! Help Mass Audubon to monitor some species whose populations are in decline, and learn about three fascinating bird species in the process.

Did you know that dragonflies migrate? Families can observe the migratory habits of dragonflies and participate in meaningful citizen science by taking part in Dragonfly Pond Watch, a project that collects data on dragonfly habits based on observations made at ponds where focus species can be found!

As the blanket of snow gets deeper outside, frogs of all types are hibernating below the frost line or under water. And for many of us, one of the first signs of spring is the call of the Spring Peepers as they emerge from their hibernation and begin to find a mate. FrogWatch USA, a citizen science program that provides people of all ages with the opportunity to learn about amphibians and help with conservation efforts, is looking for volunteers to help collect data on the calls of frogs and toads from February through August. Find out how you can participate…

During the winter, young wildlife enthusiasts can focus their attention on feathered friends, one of the few creatures who are still very visible throughout the coldest months of the year. Whether your family are avid birders or simply enjoy watching feeder visitors, there are lots of ways to learn about the local environment and to participate in citizen science by watching birds this winter! From owls to chickadees, there are many ways to engage with the local landscape and to help contribute information to important studies.

What do you see when you look into the night sky above your home? Turn informal observations of celestial bodies into citizen science with Loss of the Night…

Citizen Science: Audubon Christmas Bird Count From December 14th, 2010 through January 5th, 2011,  family volunteers throughout New England will bundle up and head out into the cold to participate as citizen scientists as part of the Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). 111 years ago, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count began when Frank Chapman, founder of the Audubon magazine, suggested an alternative to hunting birds and proposed that people “hunt” them… Read More

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