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School Watch

Green Spaces as Learning Places

What is School Watch?

School Watch is a program where teachers learn how to lead citizen science projects with their students on school grounds. We deliver teacher PD and student activities on curriculum-linked environmental projects such as tree inventories and bird surveys. This project allows K-12 students to contribute meaningful data while learning about ecosystem health, positive actions and environmental science in the community.  


School Watch Guide

School Watch GuideThe School Watch Guide is a resource to help teachers lead outdoor citizen science activities with students.

This teacher* resource includes a step-by-step guide to conducting citizen science research with students on school grounds, citizen science projects, and additional information to help you get started. It is free for educational use. The guide is focused on grades 6-12, but can be adapted for younger students. Find pollinators, measure tree canopy, map habitat, and more!

The School Watch Guide opens as a pdf document in a new window.

Take a quick tour through the School Watch Guide with an intro presentation.


Teacher Workshops

School Watch professional development teacher workshops are in-person opportunities to learn about the activities and citizen science projects featured in the School Watch Guide.

At teacher* workshops, we provide: 

  1. Hands-on resources for animating school ground greening projects
  2. Exposure to and training on different kinds of citizen science projects
  3. Follow-up staff support to plan and co-lead an outdoor student session with EcoSpark
  4. Opportunities to earn points towards your EcoSchools certification!

Student Sessions

School Watch student sessions are co-facilitated by EcoSpark staff and teachers following the teacher workshop. They provide K-12 students with an outdoor environmental education experience right on their school grounds.

Students become citizen scientists by making observations of nearby nature. They use EcoSpark's scientific equipment including a class set of professional binoculars, identification guides, and more to collect vital data from gardens, field, and woodlots around your school. Online databases put their research into context. For example, students might observe migrating birds outside, then chart their flights across the continent using online mapping tools.

We provide experienced staff, teacher training resources, and student materials to offer meaningful activities for budding environmental stewards.

Registration for 2019-2020 School Watch teacher workshops and students sessions opens August 5th 2019. Click here to register. 




Citizen Science Calendar

The School Watch Calendar shows which citizen science projects are best for each season of the year. Check out the School Watch Guide to learn more.

School Watch Calendar



School Watch Webinar

The School Watch Webinar (recorded live May 22nd, 2018) introduces engaging citizen science projects that students can do outside on school grounds.

School Watch Webinar

View the School Watch Webinar

The webinar provides: 
  1. Links to online resources for animating school ground greening projects
  2. Exposure to and training on different kinds of citizen science projects
  3. Examples of citizen science activities teachers can plan with students






*While designed for teachers, the School Watch Guide, webinar and workshops (space permitting) are suitable for anyone interested in connecting kids with outdoor education.

For more information about School Watch, please contact:
Sara Bowman, Citizen Science Coordinator 
647-258-3280 x 2003

Thank you for your interest in School Watch. We hope to see you outside!


This project would not be possible without the generous financial support from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, The Chawkers Foundation, The McLean Foundation, and in-kind support from the York Region District School Board and Toronto District School Board Sustainability Office/EcoSchools.