Exploring the Use of Citizen Science and Technology to Connect Preschool Classrooms at Two University-Based Programs


  • Meg Gravil University of Louisville
  • Tamala North Eastern Kentucky University
  • Rebecca Crawford Eastern Kentucky University


citizen science, collaboration, COVID-19, nature education, outdoor education, social learning, technology in early childhood


The COVID-19 pandemic and resultant restrictions limited the ability of teachers to collaborate on activities for children attending center-based care. In response to such constraints and to encourage outdoor learning, researchers and teachers at two university-based early childhood programs partnered to simultaneously implement a citizen science project in two preschool classrooms. Teachers and children engaged in Project FeederWatch counts and other bird-related activities influenced by children’s interests. The two classrooms participated in virtual meetings to share their birding “research” and observation data. Children were engaged in the birding project for longer than expected and many included their families in birding activities at home.

Author Biographies

Meg Gravil, University of Louisville

Meg Gravil, Ph.D., is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville. She is a Kentucky Master Environmental Educator with research interests including equitable access to nature-based play spaces, early science learning, and using nature and environmental education as part of an integrated curriculum.

Tamala North, Eastern Kentucky University

Tamala North, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in Applied Human Sciences at Eastern Kentucky University. Her early childhood philosophy and educational framework is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach and nature-based education related to children birth through kindergarten age.

Rebecca Crawford, Eastern Kentucky University

Rebecca Crawford, Ph.D., is clinical faculty in Applied Human Sciences at Eastern Kentucky University. Dr. Crawford has experience as a preschool teacher as well as a director of a childcare center. She advocates for early intervention and inclusion of all children.






Reports from the Field