Journey North
Project Descriptions

Seasonal change is all around us. Children see it in the length of a day, in the appearance of a flower, in the flight of a butterfly. Journey North is a free, Internet-based program that explores the interrelated aspects of seasonal change:

  • Sunlight and the Seasons: Children study seasonal change in sunlight in a global game of hide and seek called Mystery Class.
  • Plants and the Seasons: Children explore tulip growth in their own gardens, running an experiment that tracks the arrival of spring.
  • Seasonal Migrations: Children follow animal migrations. They observe, research, and report findings and watch journeys progress on live maps.

Through these interrelated investigations, students discover that sunlight drives all living systems and they learn about the dynamic ecosystem that surrounds and connects them. (See video >>.)  

Teachers can pick and choose from the studies below. Each is unique; the depth of involvement is up to you. Guidelines, lessons, activities, reading connections, and interactive maps are included for each study.

Sunlight and the Seasons
Children study seasonal change in sunlight in a global game of hide and seek. This project reinforces a key concept: Changing sunlight drives all seasonal change.

Mystery Class
Spring Only:
February-May. Weekly updates: Fridays.

Students try to find 10 "mystery classes" hiding around the globe. The amount of sunlight is the central clue. Other clues link to each location's history, geography, culture, and more.

Plants and the Seasons
Children explore plant growth in their own gardens, running an experiment that tracks the arrival of spring.
  Tulip Gardens
Fall: Students plant gardens. Monthly updates: Fridays, September-December.
Students report when tulips emerge and bloom and map spring's northward journey. Weekly updates: Fridays, February-May.
Seasonal Migrations
Children follow the migrations of animals. They observe, research, and report their findings, and watch journeys progress on real-time maps.
Whooping Cranes
Students watch chicks grow and then "join" the migration as humans teach the birds a new route using an ultra-light plane to lead the way. Daily updates: September-December.
Students track the birds as they find their own way back north. Weekly updates: Fridays, February-May.
Bald Eagles
Spring Only: Weekly updates: Wednesdays, February-May.

Students join a biologist who uses satellite telemetry to track bald eagles back to their nests in Canada. They participate in an online contest and predict the location of each eagle's nest.

Hummingbirds (rufous and ruby-throated)
Spring Only: Weekly updates: Thursdays, February-May.

Students map the remarkable northward journey of these tiny jewels from Central America and Mexico to Canada and Alaska.

Spring Only: Weekly updates: February-May.

Students conduct a winter backyard census before tracking these harbingers of spring from the South to the Arctic.

Monarch Butterflies
Fall: Weekly updates: Fridays, August-November.
Weekly updates: Fridays, February-June.

Students gather and analyze data about this incredible migration to and from winter grounds in the mountains of Mexico.

Symbolic Migration
US and Canadian children make symbolic butterflies and send them to peers in Mexico. Deadline: October, 2005
Mexican children keep the butterflies until March, then send them north when the real monarchs depart.

Gray Whales
Spring Onl
y: Updates: February-June

Students "join" volunteers who count gray whales migrating past California on their journey to the frigid Arctic.

All Other Signs of Spring
Spring Only: Monthly updates and reminders: February-June.

Students report and map signs of spring: earthworms, frogs, leaf-out, ice-out, loons, orioles, maple sap runs, and more.

See Journey North's Year-at-a-Glance Timeline