1. Convert your family into a team of scientists.
The purpose of a bioblitz is to get an overall count of the plants, animals, fungi, and other living things that make their home in a certain area. Bio is a Greek word for life, and blitz is German for lightning. How many species do you think your family can identify in one afternoon? Arm yourselves with cameras and clipboards and venture outside. You never know what you’ll discover! In a 2012 community bioblitz at Forest Park in Portland, Oregon, participants discovered 247 species, including 66 different kinds of birds!

2. Before you go outside, define the area where you will look for living things.
Will you search in your backyard, a field, or around your block? Even a small yard can be home to dozens of living things. In a bioblitz, the goal is to count as many species as possible. A dog is an example of one type of species, and a cat is another species, and an oak tree is a third example.

3. Print the Species Identification cards and attach them to a clipboard.
Bring the Species Identification Cards and a field guide with you when you go outside. A field guide is a book with pictures that people use to help identify natural things. You can check one out at your library. In addition to using field guides to identify species, you can contact a local park for species lists and other resources about local living things. Or if you have a camera or a smartphone, use Project Noah to organize and map images from your bioblitz. If you are unable to identify species found, you can check “Help me ID this species,” and experts will weigh in with possible common and scientific names.

4. Go outside and identify plants and animals.
(And no, little brothers don’t count as animals!) Maybe you want to split your family into teams and compete to see who can find and identify the most species. Or work as a family toward a species identification goal. Can you find 100? Don’t forget to draw and/or take pictures of what you find. Establish boundaries before your bioblitz. Kids should stay within eyesight of an adult.

5. Pool everyone’s findings.
Make a map of your area using the MapMaker Interactive and plot where you found each species. You can do another bioblitz in the same area during a different season—will you find the same living things?

6. Discuss what you learned.
For example, did you realize that humans aren’t the only living things in your area? Everything we do affects our many neighbors, big and small.


Subjects & Disciplines

  • Adult and Family Literacy
    • Community Involvement
  • Science

Teaching Approach

  • Inquiry: Observe

Teaching Methods

  • Discovery learning

National Standards, Principles, and Practices

National Science Education Standards

(5-8) Standard C-5
Diversity and adaptations of organisms


What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Clipboards
  • Digital camera
  • Field guides
  • Hand lens
  • Notebooks
  • Pencils
  • Scissors

Background & Vocabulary

Background Information

In the wild, living things depend on their habitats to provide food, water, shelter, and other needs for survival. Scientists studying wildlife use geographic data to record the location of important resources, search for species, record places species are found, and identify underlying patterns. Information about where species live is critical to preserving and protecting Earth’s biodiversity.

Prior Knowledge

  • None

Recommended Prior Activities

  • None


Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry



a field study in which groups of scientists and citizens study and inventory all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.

Encyclopedic Entry: bioblitz



all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.

Encyclopedic Entry: biodiversity

citizen science


science project or program where volunteers who are not scientists conduct surveys, take measurements, or record observations.

Encyclopedic Entry: citizen science


Plural Noun

(singular: datum) information collected during a scientific study.



group of similar organisms that can reproduce with each other.

species inventory


a list of all the species of organisms living in a specific area.


Media Credits

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Jessica Shea, National Geographic Society


Christina Riska, National Geographic Society
Sean P. O'Connor, National Geographic Society

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