Nationwide science classes, from elementary through secondary, are placing a larger emphasis on inquiry and authentic experiences. The opportunity for community members (students, teachers, or interested individuals) to collect real data and contribute to a research project is the definition of citizen science. Recent disease outbreaks of mosquito-transmitted pathogens (West Nile, eastern equine encephalitis, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika) demonstrate the need to educate children and adults about the public health risks posed by mosquitoes. This lesson plan has students determine mosquito species and subsequent disease risk around their house and in their community by collecting mosquito eggs and rearing a portion of them to adults. The students identify adult mosquitoes and associated health risks. Furthermore, students and teachers have the option to participate in a national mosquito-species-distribution study by submitting mosquito eggs and adults to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The data generated by participant submissions will be available to all mosquito submitters, making each student and school part of a larger project. This lesson plan has three objectives beyond the citizen science experience: (1) clarify the individual's role in protecting individuals, communities, and pets from illness; (2) raise awareness of pathogens transmitted by mosquitoes; and (3) participate in a national program to gather mosquito distribution data. The lesson and the associated supplementary material (available at http://www.citizenscience.us) can be used for middle to high school classes, as well as Advanced Placement classes, because the materials and presentations can be easily modified to classroom needs.
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Vol. 78 • No. 4