“Citizen Science is a partnership between individuals and scientists for investigating pressing questions about the world. The purpose of this conference is bring together the Australian Citizen Science community to share skills and ideas and encourage collaboration.”
The first day of the Maximising the Capacity of Citizen Science for Science and Society conference is almost concluded and it is clear that this movement will continue to grow in importance and relevance. It seems obvious that science teachers have an emerging opportunity to connect their students with the wider scientific community but, perhaps more importantly, engage them with authentic and potentially very exciting learning as citizen scientists. This is the inaugural conference of the Australian Citizen Science Association and it would be wonderful if our students could present on the citizen science projects at the next conference.
Professor Ian Chubb, Australia’s Chief Scientist, opened the conference and demonstrated how central citizen science is in a policy framework sense. He emphasised the need for the community to be connected to the scientific community and his paper, Building Australia Through Citizen Science, is an important document. Professor Chubb’s message that the scientific community needs to connect with citizens is absolutely essential if our country is to improve scientific literacy and deal with our many environmental challenges.
This leads to an obvious question for an educator to ask:
What place does citizen science have in our schools?
Often allowing students to take on an identity or role is an effective way of genuinely engaging them in learning. For many students they have no idea what a scientist really does and cannot really imagine how to be a scientist. Citizen science has the potential to help students make the link. However, schools, students and science teachers need guidance and tools. It would be wonderful if the Australian Citizen Science Association and the growing community could place young people and schools on the agenda. This makes sense if we are to grow the community’s understanding of science and ability to understand and work on solutions.
Can anyone help our school with ideas for citizen science projects and tools who is at the conference or following the hashtag?
Our school is already encouraging citizen scientists, by engaging with Genographic Project, in the context of studying Big History, but are in need of ideas and support to grow this in the next few years. I like the definition Rick Bonney, of Cornell University, provided as a model to help our students understand what it is they can do:
“Members of the public engaging in authentic scientific investigations: asking questions, collecting or processing data, and/or interpreting results.”
For those not at the conference you can follow the conference hashtag for day two of the conference tomorrow.
Featured image: flickr photo by Darcy Moore http://flickr.com/photos/darcymoore/19958256131 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license