About Citizen Science

Citizen science is essentially the idea of encouraging public participation in scientific research. Therefore people are engaged in a hands-on, dynamic learning process that emphasizes place-based environmental education. It increases scientific literacy, while simultaneously promoting environmental awareness and civic advocacy and and encourages sustainability (Krasney & Bonney, 2005; Louv, 2005). There are a variety of different active citizen science programs throughout the country. Citizen Science programs allow students out-of-classroom opportunities to increase their understanding of the environment, participate in scientific methodologies, and have positive experiences in outdoor settings (Bell, 2009; Bonney et al., 2009; Crall et al., 2012).

Citizen Science is not a new concept. In fact, one of the earliest examples can be traced back to 1900 when the Audubon Society created the Christmas Bird Count. Avid birdwatchers submit their observations during this particular 2-week period in the winter, which has created a massive amount of data that then allows scientists to analyze population trends, migration patterns, changes in behavior associated with climate change, etc. Citizen science programs are incredibly diverse, ranging from water quality and birds to insects and even astronomy. Because of their participation, scientists have amassed so much data they are able to ask questions over larger geographic regions and over broader time scales than ever before, all thanks to people volunteering to help.  So when people participate in studies like this, it’s all a part of the ever-growing Citizen Science movement.

 

Selected Bibliography:

  • Bell, P. (2009). Learning science in informal environments: People, places, and pursuits. National Academy Press.
  • Bonney, R., Ballard, H., Jordan, R., McCallie, E., Phillips, T., Shirk, J., & Wilderman, C. C. (2009). Public Participation in Scientific Research: Defining the Field and Assessing Its Potential for Informal Science Education. A CAISE Inquiry Group Report. Online Submission. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/recordDetail?accno=ED519688
  • Conrad, C. C., & Hilchey, K. G. (2010). A review of citizen science and community-based environmental monitoring: issues and opportunities. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 176, 273–291. doi:10.1007/s10661-010-1582-5
  • Crall, A. W., Jordan, R., Holfelder, K., Newman, G. J., Graham, J., & Waller, D. M. (2012). The impacts of an invasive species citizen science training program on participant attitudes, behavior, and science literacy. Public Understanding of Science. doi:10.1177/0963662511434894
  • Gray, S., Nicosia, K., & Jordan, R. (2012). Lessons Learned from Citizen Science in the Classroom. A Response to “The Future of Citizen Science.” Democracy and Education, 20(2). Retrieved from http://democracyeducationjournal.org/home/vol20/iss2/14
  • Jeanpierre, B., Oberhauser, K., & Freeman, C. (2005). Characteristics of Professional Development that Effect Change in Secondary Science Teachers’ Classroom Practices. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(6), 668–690.
  • Krasny, M. E., & Bonney, R. (2005). Environmental education through citizen science and participatory action research. Environmental education and advocacy: Changing perspectives of ecology and education, 292–319.
  • Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Algonquin Books, Chapel Hill, NC.
  • Pandya, R. E. (2012). A framework for engaging diverse communities in citizen science in the US. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10(6), 314–317. doi:10.1890/120007

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