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Project Citizen: Promoting action-oriented citizen science in the classroom
The Science Teacher (2012)
  • Carie Green, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
  • William Medina-Jerez, Univerisity of Texas at El Paso
Students may know about efforts to address environmental problems in their communities—but do they use the science they learn in school to help solve these problems? In recent years, citizen science projects have emerged as a means to involve students in scientific inquiry, particularly in the fields of ecology and environmental science. A citizen scientist is “a volunteer who collects and/or processes data as part of a scientific inquiry” (Silverton 2009, p. 467). Participation in citizen science fosters an appreciation for
the diversity of scientific fields (i.e., conservation biology, ornithology). The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports citizen science projects as a means to recruit future generations into the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines by directly involving students in scientific research. Examples include NestWatch, a bird nesting monitoring program; Project Budburst, a program developed to track climate change through recording the timing of flowers and foliage; and Project SEED, which involves science researcher mentoring underserved high school students. Teachers have expanded citizen science projects to include not only gathering and analyzing data but also civic participation and action (Zaikowski and Lichtman 2007; Ryken et al. 2008). This effectively merges hard sciences with social sciences. In a survey of adolescents in seven countries—Chile, Czech Republic, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, and the United States—social movement citizenship such as participating in community action and environmental protection was deemed just as important as conventional citizenship activities (i.e., voting) (Torney-Purta and Amadeo 2003). In light of
this growing interest, teachers must explore effective ways to engage students in citizen science projects to promote STEM education and environmental awareness. This also helps us dispel the myth that science is just a static body of knowledge.

In this article, we present the multidisciplinary Project Citizen approach to teaching and learning science and engaging students in action-oriented citizen science.
Publication Date
Fall December 1, 2012
Citation Information
Green, C. & Medina-Jerez, W. (2012). Project Citizen: Promoting action-oriented citizen science in the classroom. The Science Teacher, 79(9), 58-63.