Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Citizen Science

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Citizen Science

Article excerpt

Many of today's most important questions about nature, the environment, health, Earth, and space require data collected on a scale that no individual scientist could gather in a lifetime. Enter the burgeoning field of citizen science, where investigations can take place at global scales and across decades, leading to discoveries that no single scientist--or even groups of scientists--could ever achieve on their own. The name itself--citizen science--evokes the highest democratic ideals of public involvement, echoing the central mission of the National Science Teachers Association: science for all.

Citizen science harnesses the power of people by crowdsourcing data collection and analysis. In our classes, it can create opportunities for students to participate in authentic research and the generation of new scientific knowledge. The opportunities are boundless. A small sampling (see "On the web"):

Project Budburst: Students collect and analyze important climate change data based on the timing of plant leafing, flowering, and other phenological changes. The project provides numerous resources for K-12 teachers and students.

NASA's Asteroid Grand Challenge: Students and citizen scientists look for asteroids and report new findings--and help protect Earth from the threat of asteroid impacts.

Great Sunflower Project: Students join a community of gardeners, beekeepers, birders, and naturalists who are providing thousands of records each year to build a data set on plants and pollinators.

Planet 4: Craters: Students help planetary scientists identify and measure features on the Martian surface and determine the number of craters at different scales and resolutions. …

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