Archive for the ‘Partnerships’ Category
Upbeat, collaborative, and focused: Educators at SXSWedu reflect on the value and future of citizen science in education.
Who really benefits from citizen science? How can citizen science support STEM education? How do we bring citizen science to new audiences? How can we leverage new technologies to expand student participation in citizen science projects?
These were some of the questions we set out to discuss at the Citizen Science Meet-up at SXSWedu. SXSWedu is an annual conference that attracts thought-leaders from the worlds of education, technology, policy, and the media. This year, 7,000 participants from 38 countries—including bestselling authors, TED-talking professors, and quirky teachers—came together to discuss the future of teaching and learning. At SciStarter and the California Academy of Sciences, we believe that citizen science is an integral part of that future, so we joined forces to bring our ideas to the participants of SXSWedu.
We designed the Meet-up as an interactive experience with roundtable conversations and resource share-outs. In one corner of the room, participants explored a playground of citizen science projects and toolkits, including tinkering with arthropod observation tools, exploring the biodiversity app iNaturalist, and discovering diverse DIY projects featured on SciStarter. In another corner, at the Citizen Science Platter, the participants shared their insights about the role of citizen science in education today. Here’s what people were saying:
“We are upbeat and enthusiastic about the power of citizen science.” Citizen science is a powerful tool that can be used to tap into the natural curiosity of students and empower students to drive their own learning, both inside and outside the classroom. Moreover, citizen science has a low barrier to entry. “Everyone has a phone,” one attendee said, referring to the proliferation of elegant apps, such as iNaturalist and GLOBE Observer, that democratize participation in the scientific process.
“We need more collaborative work in the field.” We need best practices to guide collaborations between educators, scientists, and research on learning. For example, scientists can be more transparent about how the data collected by citizen scientists will be used. We also need to continue to develop ways citizen scientists can connect with each other to share experiences, learn from each other, and create a sense of community in citizen science. In addition to using Web apps, we might also ask citizen scientists to create portfolios of their work so that they can showcase their achievements and get feedback from students peers and other citizen scientists. For example, the new SciStarter dashboard is a digital portfolio for people to track, earn credit, and receive recognition for their contributions across projects. There is clearly an opportunity to expand this to serve the needs of classrooms.
“We need design that is more focused on who we are trying to reach.” As advocates for citizen science, we can make educators’ jobs easier by building more scaffolding around our designs. For example, as citizen science practitioners develop projects that are fit for schools, they might consider the limits of space at many schools. An added challenge is determining how citizen science can most effectively enhance STEM learning
The Meet-up created a renewed sense of the excitement about using citizen science as a learning and engagement tool for STEM education. There are many smart, creative, passionate people who are designing and evaluating citizen science experiences both in and out of the classroom. Our power comes from the communities we support, and we encourage program designers to not only collaborate across organizations, but also empower their audiences with additional resources. If you don’t know where to start, here are some ideas:
- The California Academy of Sciences Citizen Science Toolkit for Educators provides step by step instructions for integrating citizen science projects into classroom curricula or afterschool programming.
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology BridSleuth program provides connections between the Next Generation Science Standards and Citizen Science.
- To get started on citizen science right away, check out SciStarter’s amazing repository of citizen science projects. Many projects have been rated, reviewed and aligned to standards by educators. You can search for projects that have teaching materials or search by appropriate grade-level. You and your students can set up personalized dashboard to help track involvement and interest in projects and help you discover personalized recommendations.
Together, we make the commitment to help connect citizen science more closely with educators, students, and, of course, anyone who wants to contribute to our understanding of the world. The future of citizen science is bright, and we welcome it with open arms.
For more information or to chat further please feel free to reach out!
Katie Levedahl (KLevedahl@calacademy.org)
Katie drives the strategic design, implementation, and wide-scale expansion of science education resources that transform informal science learning. As the Director of Informal learning with the California Academy of Sciences her work includes expansion of offerings to serve thousands of people through the Academy’s youth leadership programs, the founding and scaling of the Science Action Club network, and a lead role with several regional STEM education networks.
Catherine Hoffman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Catherine bring citizen science to new audiences through SciStarter. As the Managing Director of SciStarter she oversees strategic partnerships with formal and informal education groups, coordinates product development within SciStarter, and grows citizen science through festivals and events throughout the country.
Po designs curriculum and learning tools in the education technology space. He is passionate about science education and committed to developing educational products that are engaging, market-disruptive, and accessible. At his current role as Instructional Design Lead at the California Academy of Sciences, he builds curriculum for youth and educators in the Science Action Club network.
In the next two posts, as part of our SciStarter in the Classroom collection, guest contributor Ben Graves will share his personal experiences and advice for using citizen science in the classroom. Graves is a fellow with the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, which supports a small cohort of early-career teachers across the United States with intensive professional development. He teaches AP Environmental Science and freshman environmental science at Delta High School, a rural school in western Colorado. Before moving to Colorado, Ben was deeply involved in environmental education and citizen science initiatives with youth in the national parks, including leading volunteer trail crews across Alaska and teaching inquiry-based science workshops for students and teachers at NatureBridge, an organization that provides environmental science programming in the national parks.
I spend lot of my summer outdoors—in my garden, running and biking in the mountains, learning new approaches to teaching outdoor and experiential science. As the end of the summer nears, I think about how to get my science students outside. Science doesn’t need to be contained inside a classroom, and I have found that citizen science projects are a great way to get students outdoors and keep them engaged throughout the school year.
Read the rest of this entry »
If you’ve already signed up to participate in NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive research to ground-truth satellite data, great! (And thank you!) As soon as you input your data to the GLOBE site, you’ll receive an embroidered version of this patch.
Interested in joining SMAP? We are looking for teams in the following states: AK, AR, ME, NE, NV, NM, TN, UT, VT, WV
Attention all backyard explorers and rosebush whackers: this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. Your days of leading patient parents on perilous neighborhood expeditions are over. Put down that “machete.” Stop mushing the dog. Grab your merit badges. Adventure is calling!
This Friday, August 24, the National Park Service and the National Geographic Society will host their annual BioBlitz species count at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Hundreds of students and thousands of local citizens will join about 200 scientists, naturalists, and explorers from around the country to collect and analyze wildlife data, transforming the forest into a massive outdoor classroom alive with curiosity and discovery.
“I am always moved by the commitment of the National Parks Service to protecting our country’s ecological diversity and sharing it with the general public,” said Daniel Edelson, Vice President for Education at National Geographic. “The BioBlitzes are…explicit strategies for preparing young people to care for their world.”
National Geographic has been “inspiring people to care about the planet” through its magazine since 1888, but it is relatively new to the business of “preparing” them to do so. With the rapid proliferation of digital media, the society saw an opportunity to provide teachers and students with the resources to learn (curricula, films, games) and the tools to take action through a more robust educational initiative, thus engaging with their audience in ways never thought possible. Can’t make it to Colorado to catch bugs, spot birds, and count elk on Friday? You can take part in the action via their Google Hangout starting at 3 PM (EST), or even plan your own BioBlitz by following their instructions.
“It’s exciting to see that other people are embracing the concept and using the resources we developed to conduct their own biodiversity research in their own parks in their own communities,” said Sean O’Connor, a BioBlitz project manager.
This year’s BioBlitz, the sixth in a series of ten leading up to the National Park Service’s Centennial in 2016, comes amidst the strain of another round of federal budget cuts and continued lack of funding for the program. As the National Park Service prepares to face the challenges ahead—political, economic, environmental, or otherwise—National Geographic aims to show its next generation of stewards why its 397 parks encompassing ver 84 million acres of land are worth preserving.
“We believe [the most important lesson] we can teach young people is how interconnected our world is,” said Edelson. “Even in our most pristine National Parks, you can’t escape the impact of human activities on the natural environment. A BioBlitz is a chance for young people to see those impacts and learn about the connections between their own actions and the health of ecosystems.”
What would you do if you had one week to control a research satellite?
That probably depends on who you are. Amateur photographers might want to take time-lapse photos of the moon to frame in series in their living room. University researchers might want to measure levels of ozone variation on earth across earth’s latitudes. A high school teacher might want to set up the ultimate class project to challenge their students to be real scientists. There might even be someone brave enough to beam down a cosmic marriage proposal!
The great news is that all of these possibilities can become realities with the ArduSat Project.
When I first heard of the ambitious nature of the project I was admittedly a little weary. But, after seeing the amount of initial support and the details of how the project will be funded and carried out, I now believe that the ArduSat Project is an amazingly unique and innovative way for the public to become involved in actual space exploration.
The ArduSat (Arduino Satellite) utilizes state of the art Arduino Processors to process data from over 25 sensors, all housed within a 10cm x 10cm x 10cm CubeSat miniature satellite. Participants will be able to collaborate with others to formulate, test, and ultimately deploy publicly designed applications to run experiments.
What makes this all possible is a unique funding plan set up through the project’s Kickstarter Campaign. The campaign site also has all the information you will need to get started with the project. As with any Kickstarter project, based on the amount you pledge, you are rewarded with increasingly enticing awards. Rewards start at very reasonable pledge amounts and include chances to have satellite photos sent right to your email inbox, development packages to design advanced Arduino based applications, and reserved satellite time to run experiments.
The Kickstarter campaign ends July 15th and has a goal of $35,000 – so hurry and reserve your spot! Plus, Discover is running a contest until July 6th, to determine the application with the most innovative use of ArduSat. The grand prize is the $1,500 advanced sensor package and a full week to run your experiment. All you have to do to enter is join the campaign at the $1 level! This is an outstanding opportunity to challenge your science class, friends, and fellow space buffs to come together and be handsomely rewarded for inventive ideas.
The possibilities with this project are truly endless, allowing citizen scientists all over the world a amazing opportunity to engage in space exploration. So let your imagination run wild and get involved!