Citizen Science has been recently defined by the Socientize FP7 project by a “general public engagement in scientific research activities when citizens actively contribute to science either with their intellectual effort or surrounding knowledge or with their tools and resources”. In STEMForYouth, we considered students as central actors of the scientific research, being able to decide or to influence on several aspects such as the definition of the research experiment, the protocol used for data collection, the way to report results and the knowledge transfer to the community.
Students' participation and motivation were strongly increased when they played the role of citizen scientists. The close contact with researchers, the perception of their ability to solve important issues for the community, and their empowerment as true owners of the project results play a key role in the observed successful implementation of Citizen Science at schools.
To start your journey through Citizen Science, we have selected different materials in order to help teachers and students to get familiarized with this discipline:
Video of Games For Social Change: short inspirational video (2’) about the citizen science co-created experiments realized in the Barcelona region.
Citizen Science Results and Recommendations: An open report of the citizen science experiments of Palaio Faliro (Greece) and the final report of the citizen science introduction at school give an overview of the possible results obtained and list tips in order to successfully introduce Citizen Science at School.
Citizen Science Open Data and Codes: for the most techies students and teachers, Open Data obtained through the public space experiments (stored in Zenodo) and Open Codes of the digital platform used (stored in GitHub).
As a teacher, if you want to introduce Citizen Science at School, you can consult:
Citizen Science Toolkit: it offers downloadable material and detailed instructions for teachers on how to introduce Citizen Science at School and co-create an original Citizen Science experiment.
Citizen Science Resources for STEM: a list of online available projects for each STEM discipline considered in this project (Chemistry, Engineering, Astronomy, Mathematics, Medecine, Physics).
RRI has been introduced in the citizen science course toolkit for teachers following:
The students involved in the co-creation process of citizen science experiments are fully immersed in a research process, which is students-centred. They will have to get used with collaborative work as they will have to work in small groups and collectively as a whole converge on a unique experimental design. They will thus experience by themselves what a collaborative participation in a research process entails.
The Citizen Science co-creation sessions are totally non-conventional as they are not implying any conventional contents nor conventional learning contexts. At the beginning of each session, the classroom structure is totally changed, in order to provide some spaces to favour the work by subgroups. The sessions are totally based on the students’ inputs and unconventional materials like post-its, “thermometers”, canvas or mind-maps are used, thus boosting the students’ motivation.
More information on RRI 10 Ideas: https://zenodo.org/record/1303805#.W1H_03jdhF0
Citizen Science contents are based on the following innovative educational tools
Hands-on activities. Several activities included the creation of hand-made canvas, the most noteworthy example being the conceptual scheme of the experiment. These hands-on activities also potentiated the creativity and artistic skills of the students.
Inquiry based learning. The inquiry based learning and especially the “Open Inquiry” methodology was introduced in all steps of the co-creation process, through some open questions such as “Who am I?”, “What are my concerns?”, “Which research questions can I formulated?”, etc. This methodology was combined with the work in small groups of 4 to 6 students, which potentiated the team working abilities of the students and enhanced mutual learning.