Citizen science can play an important role in school science education. Citizen science is particularly relevant to addressing current societal environmental sustainability challenges, as it engages the students directly with environmental science and gives students an understanding of the scientific process. In addition, it allows students to observe local representations of global challenges. Here, we report a citizen science programme designed to engage school-age children in real-world scientific research. The programme used standardized methods deployed across multiple schools through scientist–school partnerships to engage students with an important conservation problem: habitat for pollinator insects in urban environments. Citizen science programmes such as the programme presented here can be used to enhance scientific literacy and skills. Provided key challenges to maintain data quality are met, this approach is a powerful way to contribute valuable citizen science data for understudied, but ecologically important study systems, particularly in urban environments across broad geographical areas.