Review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2013

Journey North

Long-standing citizen science site continues to inspire learners

Subjects & skills
  • Science

  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication & Collaboration
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Journey North moves beyond other citizen science websites because it helps kids do more than just upload pictures -- they actually get to ask questions and form conclusions.

Cons: Without a teacher dashboard, teachers can't track progress of their class online.

Bottom Line: Extensive resources can help kids collect, share, and analyze evidence about seasonal change.

Journey North can be used as a part of a large-scale class project or assigned to individual students who are interested in citizen science. Under the Student Showcase, templates and graphic organizers help kids learn to develop research questions using evidence from the site. In addition, printable worksheets can help kids learn to take notes from research sources. Journey North has excellent resources to help kids collect, share, and analyze evidence about seasonal change. These tools can be used outside of the Journey North site to help kids do scientific inquiry. Brainstorming charts help kids pose questions about habitats, life cycles, migration, or other seasonal change topics. They gather their own data and use it alongside observations from other scientists. Then kids use graphic organizers to take notes from research resources. Journey North even provides the tools for kids to write conclusions about their own questions.

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Journey North is a free website that helps kids record and share observations about seasonal change. These observations vary from the length of a day to a flower blooming or the presence of a butterfly. Resources are available to help kids figure out their longitude and latitude so they can include it with their observations. This site can be used by any nature lover but is best for elementary or middle school students learning about ecosystems, life cycles, or the seasons.

Webcams of gray seals, osprey, puffins, polar bears, common terns, and brown bears are intended to let kids see how the seasons affect living things. However, during certain parts of the year, the webcams aren't live like when polar bears are out during their hunting season. For example, puffins are only on camera from May to July, when they're breeding. Teachers will need to take that into account in their planning or settle for recorded images. While this lack of live access demonstrates how behaviors change with the seasons, this may not be obvious to kids who are viewing taped footage from a different part of the year.

At first glance, Journey North may seem like any other citizen science website. However, if you dig deeper, there are a lot of resources that help teachers build quality inquiry experiences for their kids. For example, under the Student Showcase, templates and graphic organizers help kids develop research questions using evidence from the site. In addition, printable worksheets can help kids take notes from research sources. Examples of student research presentations are available on the site and include murals, booklets, and posters. Journey North could be improved by adding a teacher dashboard with a way to track student sightings.

Standout Activities:
Mystery Class –- Track sunlight and follow clues to find the mystery locations on the globe.
Plants and the Seasons –- Plant a garden and gather data on the arrival of spring as part of an international experiment.
Sunlight and the Seasons –- Track changes in daylight around the world to figure out how sunlight drives seasonal change.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Kids will enjoy contributing to real-world research. Despite the array of wonderful resources, poor site design makes navigation challenging for kids.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

This jam-packed resource offers plenty of ways for kids to expand their understanding of seasonal change and design their own research. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Adults can find tons of extension activities on the teacher page. It would be great if the site had accessibility features such as materials in languages besides English and more audio and video support.  

Common Sense Reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Teresa B. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Norris Middle School
Omaha, United States
Nice Site for Data Collection in Citizen Science
This is a nice site to use for data collection. The website offers several different species to track and report sightings. The teacher tab offers a plethora of helpful items including assessment options, professional development, standards correlation and varying strategies.This site could be used as little or as much as teacher wants to incorporate into their classrooms.
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