Wilson Center’s Science & Technology Innovation Program

White House Recognizes Citizen Science, CSA Commitments, at Science Fair

In Citizen Science, News and Events on March 23, 2015 at 1:33 pm

This post is re-blogged from the Citizen Science Association. The original post can be found here

Washington, D.C. ­­(March 23rd, 2015)– Citizen science received some high level attention today when plans were unveiled to install a new rain gauge in the First Lady’s Kitchen Garden.

This rain gauge represents far more than just a Pennsylvania Avenue data point for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS), a citizen science network of over 20,000 active participants who serve as the largest source of daily precipitation data in the United States. Announced in conjunction with the White House Science Fair, this commitment points to high-level recognition of citizen science as a powerful platform for science education.

CoCoRaHS founder, Colorado State Climatologist Nolan Doesken, was on hand for the White House Science Fair. Doesken, also a member of the Citizen Science Association Board of Directors, says: “This fair clearly shows how the youth of our national are exploring the frontiers of science.  But people of all ages and backgrounds are also helping advance scientific research, education and discovery.  Today, opportunities abound for any of us to be “citizen scientists” — contributing through our own back yard and neighborhood observations or helping scientists analyze and interpret complex systems.  There are so many opportunities and they help make science very real and relevant.”

The Citizen Science Association (CSA) is leading the charge to support excellence in education through citizen science. As outlined in a document released today by the White House, CSA is creating resources to help citizen science projects excel at supporting education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“Citizen science represents a transformative opportunity for both formal and informal science education,” says Sarah Kirn, from Gulf of Maine Research Institute and Co-Chair of CSA’s Education Working Group. “Through citizen science, educators have the opportunity to design experiences that immerse learners in the practices, concepts, and knowledge of science, but these experiences must be carefully constructed to achieve both scientific and learning outcomes.”

To this end, the CSA will work over the coming year to highlight projects representing exemplary practices in education through real-world research. CSA will also work withSciStarter to align 500 projects with standards for educational practices in science and engineering.

Some exemplary work is already receiving attention by the White House. In addition to CoCoRaHS, citizen science efforts highlighted in White House Science Fair exhibitions andannouncements include:

  • Work by 17-year old Tiye Garrett-Mills, a Teen Science Scholar at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, to develop low-cost instrumentation for leaf vein scanning and identification
  • Commitments by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to distribute Quest materials to help 4th graders and their families use eBird to connect to nature as part of President Obama’s Every Kid in a Park
  • An announcement of a new Citizen Science Tool lending library organized by SciStarter and Public Lab
  • The National Ecological Observatory Network’s “Project BudBurst” will offer a new online course to support citizen science at wildlife refuges
  • Esri will release a free open crowdsourcing app designed to help teachers, students, and youth groups easily create their own projects, report observations, and explore them on a dynamic map

Everyone is also encouraged to add their own young scientists’ citizen science projects to the White House Science Fair map:https://crowdsource.storymaps.esri.com/stories/science-fair

President Obama, commenting on the White House Science Fair, said: “There’s a reason so many young people love science.  It’s fun, it’s fascinating, and it helps us solve the mysteries of our world.   I want more boys and girls across America to get the chance to study science, technology, engineering and math – and maybe have the opportunity to go on to careers in those fields, too.  So I’m glad so many organizations are stepping up to support STEM education.  When we invest in our young people, we invest in our future.”

Want to get involved?

  • To find a project to participate in, check out a list of over 1000 projects on SciStarter.
  • To help advance education through citizen science, consider joining (for free) theCitizen Science Association.

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Today’s event will be livestreamed, beginning at approximately 10am:www.whitehouse.gov/live

Follow on Twitter: #WHScienceFair

USGS, NPS and FWS Partner for “Catch, Click and Submit Contest”

In Foresight, News and Events, Citizen Science on February 19, 2015 at 2:35 pm

The inaugural Catch, Click and Submit Contest begins on Feb 21st in honor of the National Invasive Species Awareness Week running Feb 22nd through the 28th. The contest, which calls on anglers to photograph and report non-native fish species caught during the derby, will award prizes to various categories such as “Most Unusual Catch” and “Most Species”.  Submissions from the contest will aid researchers in developing a better understanding of the distribution of fish species throughout Florida waterways.

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Photo Credit: Vance Crain, Flickr

By engaging the existing angler community, the contest hopes to increase public awareness of the potential impacts that arise from non-native fish species. “The Catch, Click and Submit Contest offers anglers the opportunity to assist natural resource managers in finding nonnative species by doing what they enjoy – fishing!” said biologist Kelly Gestring. “The early detection of a new, nonnative species could provide a better opportunity to control or even eradicate a population.” The hope is that participants will choose to target non-native fish for consumption in the future, helping to control invasive populations.

The contest will be run in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and other local agencies.  The goal is to establish an annual event to create a continued monitoring program using the support of anglers as citizen scientist.

New Reports on Citizen Science from the European and Intellectual Property Perspectives

In Citizen Science, Commons Lab, Governance, News and Events on February 9, 2015 at 1:38 pm

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The Commons Lab at the Wilson Center is releasing two new reports today that address different challenges facing citizen science: One examining the policy implications of a range of successful citizen science projects in Europe, and the other exploring potential legal issues surrounding intellectual property (IP). Hard copies of these reports will be available at the inaugural conference of the Citizen Science Association, which begins Feb. 11, 2015 at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, CA.

The first report, Citizen Science and Policy: A European Perspective, written by Dr. Muki Haklay of University College London, examines European citizen science projects to understand how they support or influence public policy (and how policy can support or constrain citizen science). The report includes suggestions for how projects can be better structured to support decision making and meet policy goals—for example, through strategic partnerships and by developing guidelines to facilitate the use of citizen science data. The report can be downloaded here: http://wilsoncenter.org/publication/citizen-science-and-policy-european-perspective

The second report, Typology of Citizen Science Projects from an Intellectual Property Perspective: Invention and Authorship between Researchers and Participants, written by Dr. Teresa Scassa and doctoral candidate Haewon Chung of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, analyzes various types of citizen science activities to determine whether they raise legal questions about IP ownership. The report includes a typology comparing the IP implications of different types of citizen science projects, from transcribing or gathering data to assisting with problem solving. The report can be downloaded here:
http://wilsoncenter.org/publication/typology-citizen-science-projects-and-intellectual-property-perspective

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