Citizen Science

Citizen science projects engage students (or anyone!) in data collection to contribute to a database that is used by scientists.

Photo of KRISTIN Nash
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One of the things that bothers me the most about science education is that it feels like it stops when the class is over over when you leave campus.  With the exception of science fairs, most students don't actively work on a scientific endeavor outside their schools.  It seems that science is done by an elite group--not by every day people.  

What I love about citizen science projects is that citizens are asked to be a part of the team that collects data for analysis.  Citizens may participate in a project to count monarch butterflies at a certain time of day, monitor water quality, count invasive or natural species, or search for evidence of intersellar dust from photos.  Whatever the focus of the project the citizens become an essential part of the team through gathering data.  Science becomes something that we can do anywhere--not just at school.

One concern I have about using citizen science projects with students is how to make them something that students are actually engaged and invested in--not just something they have to do (like some science fairs and other activities have become).  How do we get students involved in citizen science projects that pique their interest and engage them in the scientific process?


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Photo of Michelle Fontenot

Very nice, Kristin! The DIY approach of citizen science encourages rational thinking and makes scientific knowledge seem more accessible to the "average" person. We all need to be critical consumers of scientific studies, familiar with common slip-ups such as funding bias, too small or non-random samples, and misattribution of causality. Participating in citizen science not only contributes to our knowledge base, but creates better scientific consumers as well!

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