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University of Minnesota Extension

Driven to Discover for classrooms


The program is geared toward students in grades 6 through 12 and their teachers. It can be adapted for exceptional learners, English language learners, or students with disabilities according to the needs and desires of the teacher.

Flexible format

Driven to Discover fits into the formal classroom in a variety of ways—whatever works for you! The curriculum is designed ideally for a 15 to 21 class period unit, but pieces can be done in 4 to 8 periods. More is gained from integrating the process into other parts of teaching and subjects, but the materials can be adapted to suit the needs of your classroom and students.

First, students develop the science skills related to the citizen science project they will undertake. Then they practice protocols to contribute to a citizen science project. Then, based on their experiences in the first two steps, they conduct a science investigation of their own choosing. Curriculum materials support disciplinary literacy and the integration of scientific reasoning across all activities.


The Driven to Discover curriculum is a step-by-step guide for implementing this full-scale program in your setting. With activity instructions for teachers and/or adult leaders and companion materials for youth, these resources coach you through the process of using citizen science experiences as a springboard into full science investigations. We offer four versions of this resource, one each for citizen science projects about pollinators, phenology, birds, and dragonflies.

All versions of the curricula contain:

  • Lesson plans for developing the necessary science skills for studying the subject of the chosen citizen science program.

  • Instructions for collecting and submitting data for the respective citizen science project.

  • Step-by-step guidance for planning and implementing science investigations with helpful background information on the process of science.

Curriculum designed for school settings also contains:

  • Lesson plans to strengthen student's data literacy skills.

  • Lesson plan exploring "Science Behind the Scenes" through adaptive primary scientific literature.

  • Assessment recommendations.

  • Exercises to support constructing scientific explanations using evidence, claims and reasoning.

Benefits to the students/district

Driven to Discover can help your students build skills and knowledge needed to achieve your state’s standards or the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). One strength of this program is the integration of NGGS Science Practices and Disciplinary Core Ideas. Lessons include:

  • Scientific investigations

  • Ecological systems, including (NGSS) interactions, energy and dynamic relationships

  • Communications in science

What the school/district needs to provide

Citizen science can be done anywhere (urban or rural), but it does require the outdoors. Depending on the citizen science program of your choice, you may need flowers or access to a small body of water. You will also need a computer or tablet with access to the internet in order to submit your citizen science data. Additionally, you will need instructional supplies appropriate to the program (binoculars, field guides, nets, etc). The supplies are outlined in the curriculum content specific to your choice of program.

School leaders and districts should expect teachers who are implementing this program to take their students outside of the classroom for an experiential learning process.

How U of M Extension can support you

All Driven to Discover curriculum materials are available for FREE. Download them today and get started on your own! Or let us help prepare you to work effectively with your students. We offer:

  • Personalized coaching to help you adapt the materials for a citizen science project of your own choosing.

  • In person or web-based training by a curriculum professional for teachers on how to implement the programs.

  • Regular check-ins with teachers to provide ongoing coaching.

Please contact us for estimated costs for custom training and coaching.

How to get started

  • Choose your citizen science program and download the corresponding curriculum.

  • Review the curriculum for a list of materials and tasks that will need to be completed before you begin, such as identifying a study site.

  • Let us know how we can help you! For questions or to request an estimated cost for training and coaching, please contact Andrea Lorek Strauss, an Extension Educator specializing in Fish, Wildlife & Conservation Education, at astrauss@umn.edu.

  • Start doing citizen science!

Curriculum request

Ready to add Driven to Discover to your classroom? Request it today! We’ll ask for some general information about you so we can check with you later to see if the material has been useful. We won’t share your contact information!

Download the curriculum
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