Citizen Science for Kids: Pollinator Count

One thing I love about insects is that they are super easy to study because they are everywhere! As part of our Insect themed week for the DIY Summer Camp series, I decided to introduce my kids to an insect study that they could participate in that is part of real research scientists are using!

When I was in college I worked as a research assistant for a world-renowned entymologist. As part of my job, I went hiking a couple times a week and studied ants on the mountain. It was an exciting opportunity to get first-hand research experience, and I want my kids to know that they can do "real" research too! It turns out that there are a lot of people who would be interested in the research they do all the time, so this time we focused on pollinators.

We began by going on a short hike to a creek near our home--one of my kids' favorite places! As we walked we talked about the important role that pollinators play in our ecosystem and how researchers try to study pollinators to learn more about the health of our environment. The kids were quick to spot pollinators as we walked and excited to find out that they can participate in this research too!

Researchers at the Great Sunflower Project are collecting information on pollinators around the country--anyone can help! You can go HERE to learn more and add information from your own count!

To join in, all had to do was the following:

1- Pick a flower to observe for at least 5 minutes. The website does ask you to enter the name of the flower, so it helps if you know in advance...if not, it's usually pretty easy to figure out!

2- Observe the flower for at least 5 minutes! Count each type of pollinator you see visit it. I found that it helps to take pictures and keep a tally on paper, but you don't need to turn in any pictures.

3- Record the date and time of day of your observations.

4- Do your best to identify the pollinators you observed, but if you aren't certain what type of bee or wasp, that's okay! There's room to mark that on the website.

5- Go to the website and enter your information!

It was super fun, and we learned about a new insect: the Syrphids! We saw several in our 10-minute observation!  Flies are in the Order Diptera, and one Family in that order is Syrphidae, also called Flower Flies or Hover Flies. They mimic bees and wasps, but don't actually sting. You can recognize them because they only have one pair of wings, short antennae, and big, classic "fly eyes."  

This is an AWESOME activity to do with kids from any age group or number--they can record by themselves or with a small group. We really enjoyed doing it with our small group, and following up with some more pollinator activities afterwards!

Are you joining us for the DIY Summer Camp series? I hope so! It's perfect for both homeschoolers and kids who might just be home for the summer! You can find insect and bug themed activities here and links to each theme here!

And if you're looking for more homeschool unit studies, be sure to check out our growing collection here!

Happy Educating,
Carla & the kids who don't sit still!



  1. This is a really cool idea! I love the idea of letting kids be real scientists.