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Invitations to Inquiry with Data using FieldScope


Invitations to Inquiry are short instructional activities designed to help middle and high school students work with large data sets. The activities engage students with community and citizen science data from projects hosted on FieldScope. Teachers and students use the interactive FieldScope platform to collect, visualize, and analyze environmental data. With these new Inquiries, students can explore FieldScope’s advanced mapping and graphing tools to dig deeper into data in the context of meaningful science classroom lessons.

Each lesson engages students in interpreting graphs or maps, or both, and figuring out what the data means. Students will use data to answer questions like “What is the best time of year to host a lilac blossom festival?” Ultimately, the Inquiries are intended to increase student confidence in working with data and using visualization tools as part of the process.

These Inquiries are designed for 2-4 days of learning and support the Science and Engineering Practices  from the Next Generation Science Standards. They include teacher guides, slides, handouts, and other instructional resources and supports. The activities work best with at least one computer for every 2-3 students along with high speed internet access.

To learn more about the design of the Invitations to Inquiry, see this overview.

School of fish

Asking and Answering Questions with Data

Using graphs and maps of water quality data, students investigate relationships between variables to answer questions.

Lilac flowers

Budburst – Lilac Festival

Students use graphs and maps of lilac phenology data to determine the best time to host a lilac blossom festival in their area.

Chesapeake bay algae

Chesapeake Bay Algal Blooms

Students use data from the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to determine what kind of land coverage is contributing the most to elevated levels of nitrates in the watershed which can lead to harmful algal blooms.

Frogs in habitat

Frog Eat Frog World

Using maps and Frogwatch data, students explore the natural and invasive range of the American bullfrog.

Frog closeup

Frog Symphony

Using maps and graphs of data, students investigate the habitats and time of year and day to hear a full chorus of frogs.

Three people stargazing

Global Night Sky Comparison

Students investigate what contributes to light pollution using data from locations around the globe.

Stars at night

Globe at Night – Dark Skies

Students use maps and graphs of Globe at Night night sky brightness data to predict the best place to stargaze in Arizona.

Colorado riverwway

Heavy Metals in Waterways

Students investigate possible sources of heavy metal contamination using maps and data from Colorado.

Chesapeake oysters

Restoring Oyster Reefs

Students use data from the Chesapeake Bay estuary to determine suitable sites for oyster reef restoration.

Trout stocking

Stocking Rivers with Trout

Students use data from a Colorado citizen science program to make recommendations on the best waterways for stocking trout.

Pile of trash outdoors

Trash Free Potomac – Plastic Bags

Students investigate whether a plastic bag tax was effective in Washington D.C. by analyzing graphs of trash cleanup data before and after tax implementation.

aspen trees turning all different colors

Budburst – Fall Colors

In this Inquiry, students engage in a debate between two characters about when a bed-and-breakfast (B&B) should have a fall leaf-peeping special to maximize guest experience.


This work is funded by a grant from the Pisces Foundation .