Citizen Science Toolkit for Teachers

DISCLAIMER

The interactive version of the CITIZEN SCIENCE TOOKIT FOR TEACHERS is under construction.

Why a Citizen Science Toolkit for Teachers?

The concepts and contents of this Citizen Science Toolkit for Teachers originate from the face-to-face work performed in the frame of STEMForYouth.

Five Citizen Science (CS) pilots have been performed with three schools of Barcelona Metropolitan Area, one school of Palaio Faliro (Athens, Greece) and one school of Sokołów Podlaski (Poland), with a total of 160 students aged 15-17 involved.

These pilots were devoted to introduce CS at school, based on previous evidences showing that this introduction can have many positive outcomes such as increasing students’ participation and motivation for STEM learning. In addition, the corner stone value of Responsible Research and Innovation, asking for participation and engagement of civil society in R&I, has been deeply integrated to shift the teacher’s and student’s perspective to what is a scientific research. For all these reason, the CS research projects have been collaboratively designed with the students through a co-creation process.

The engagement of the students during the co-creation process allowed the collective design and performance of five original experiments, based on the social concerns expressed by the students themselves. These social concerns were transformed into research questions serving as guidelines for the proposal of a set of conceptual diagrams describing the experiments. The background of the research was the study of human behavioural traits, such as cooperation, generosity, empathy, sense of justice, reciprocity, trust, envy and optimism, through social dilemmas in the form of games and in a highly contextualized format in order to gather social capital in each city.

The experimental set-up was collectively created by the students, a designer studio, a digital platform programmer and the scientists. Finally, the three original experiments were situated in public spaces of the five different cities, the students acting as promoters and facilitators for the pedestrian volunteers that participated.

Probably the most remarkable result was the students’ high engagement, motivation and empowerment obtained through the co-creation process. Additionally, the co-creation materials, in the form of a toolkit, have been proven to be adequate and versatile and adaptable for an autonomous use by the teachers.

 

Rationale and differential value of the Toolkit

The Citizen Science Toolkit for Teachers is largely based on the materials that have been generated in the context described previously. The aim was to co-create a CS experiments based on the social concerns of the students and that the results of this experiment had a local social impact. We are thus referring to this particular material Citizen Science Toolkit for Social Change.

The research context of Citizen Science Toolkit for Social Change is the one of human behaviour research. Traits such as for example cooperation, generosity, empathy, sense of justice, reciprocity, trust, optimism, etc. can be captured by simple games based on well-documented social dilemma, the most famous one being the prisoners’ dilemma. And these traits can be directly related to the social welfare of a city’s inhabitants. We embed these simple games in an attractive experimental set-up placed in urban public spaces. By making play pedestrians as volunteers, we moreover ensure to involve a representative segment of the public spaces’ users, and thus of the city’s inhabitants, probably more relevant than the volunteers that participated to a secluded research process inside a laboratory.

While co-designing the CS experiments, the students undergo through a transdisciplinary scientific and creative process, where the boundaries between disciplines almost disappear. The formal disciplines that are embedded are Game Theory, Sociology, Mathematics, Design, Communication, Urban Planning, Economics, and ICT, just to cite a few.

The Citizen Science Toolkit for Social Change differential value is that it allows the teachers and students to co-design a completely new CS project, based on the concerns of the students that are progressively transformed into a scientific experiment on human behaviour in urban contexts. In that sense, this material is complementary to the existing resources, such as the Open Citizen Science Toolkit that proposes four steps to integrate citizen science into the classroom but relies on already existing CS projects. The Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit provides five basic process steps for planning, designing and carrying out a crowdsourcing or citizen science project but it is mainly devoted to help federal employees use crowdsourcing and citizen science in their work, which is a radically different context than the one of secondary and high school.

The disciplines taken into consideration in STEMForYouth are also integrated in the Toolkit. Namely, selected online CS projects for Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Engineering and Medicine have been introduced. These online projects are complementary to the disciplines modules already displayed in this Platform and often include a wide range of innovative methodologies like gaming, learning via experiments and hands-on activities.