The Alpine Institute recently proposed a 90-minute “session” on Embedding Citizen Science Into Schools for the upcoming European Citizen Science Association conference in May 2016.
The session intends to demonstrate how Citizen Science can be successfully embedded into the school curriculum.
The logic is clear: Young people spend most of their lives in school, often feeling disengaged as they struggle to find “relevance” in their studies. This is particularly true for the sciences, where concepts often appear remote from a young person’s life and data collected by students often ends up in the trash can at the end of the semester. Citizen science supplies a sense of meaning to science education by attaching a genuine purpose. Collected data contributes to the body of knowledge. By having actual value, CS imparts a sense of value to learning.
In theory, the world’s millions of active students can be prime citizen scientists. What they lack in experience, they make up for in numbers. They even have built-in moderators for quality control: their teachers.
In the classroom, teachers often struggle to find a balance between strict curriculum requirements and the desire to find new and interesting ways to engage and motivate students. Finding an intriguing citizen science program active in the school’s region and incorporating it into the existing curriculum often seems like a monumental task. So the challenge becomes making citizen science accessible to teachers who wish to engage their students by adding meaning and value to their science curriculum.
This challenge deserves to be answered.
Potential themes include:
- Case studies of successful examples where CS has been embedded in the school curriculum.
- Demonstrations of improved learning outcomes based on increased student engagement.
- Developing online centralized support materials that connect teachers to CS programs in their area.
- Building CS into International Baccalaureate, Waldorf, Montessori, and national curricula and teaching methods.
- Creating support networks for teachers looking to bring CS into the classroom.
- Funding streams for CS in education.
- Technology for CS in education.