Citizen science leaders

Citizen science leaders’ experiences in schools

Citizen science is already used widely to engage students with hands-on learning, across schools in Australia. In order to learn more about these activities, and build on previous experiences, we conducted a set of focus group discussions with citizen science projects leaders.

Citizen science leaders describe the opportunities and challenges of engaging students with citizen science. Here are some of the highlights:

The benefits of citizen science in schools

Project leaders shared the many advantages they observed for students through participation in their projects. While learning was definitely an overarching theme, it consisted of many dimensions as articulated in the following image:

Guiding citizen science in schools

Most notably, citizen science project leaders describe the importance of projects such as Learning By Doing in facilitating conversations between citizen science projects and schools:

We’re scientists right, so I guess, we’d need guidance on on what’s going to work because I don’t know what the teachers want and I don’t know what the students need to learn and we can adapt things no worries, but what do they want

The challenges

As demonstrated, project leaders described many advantages for the use of citizen science in schools. However, they also shared several challenges experienced while implementing citizen science within school settings, this include:

  • Citizen science project leaders may not have the necessary resources and knowledge to run school projects
  • Balancing the science and education goals of citizen science projects may result in compromises in school settings
  • Connecting and collaborating with teachers can be difficult when teachers are unfamiliar with citizen science, or project leaders are unfamiliar with schools
  • Citizen science projects do not always align well with formal curriculum
  • Student online and physical safety is an important consideration for projects, as it can impact the scope of projects
  • Time is a scare resource for teachers
  • Varied teacher confidence in science means teachers may require extra assistance to run projects.

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