COBWEB Brings Citizen Science to the BSA Science Communications Conference 2014

Participants collect data during the Science Communication Conference workshop co-organised by COBWEB.

This May a team from COBWEB (Nicola Osborne, EDINA and Barry Evans, University of Aberystwyth),  EDINA’s Geodata services (Addy Pope) and the Open University’s nQuire and Sense-it projects (Prof. Mike Sharples, Eloy Villasclaras-Fernandez) collaborated on a “Citizen Science” session for the British Science Association’s Science Communication Conference 2014, held at the University of Surrey, Guildford.

The conference, which was opened by Jim Al-Khalili, Professor of Physics, Professor of Public Engagement in Science and host of Radio 4’s “The Life Scientific”, brought together science communication and public engagement practitioners from across the UK and Europe for two days of talks, workshops and hands on sessions covering all aspects of science communication, and including contributions from the UK Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, universities and research organisations, the Wellcome Trust, BIS, science centres around the UK, and even a few science comedians.

The aim of the workshop was to demonstrate how easy it is to create interesting and engaging participatory science missions.  After a 5 minute over-view of each app, participant paired up and headed outside. Their mission was to collect data on sounds around the University campus with each pair having access to both Fieldtrip GB and Sense-it.  They had around 15 minutes to collect as much data as they could before returning back to the classroom. 

A participant gathers an image and the sound of a fountain during the Citizen Science workshop

Once everyone was back, the team uploaded the data and displayed it to the group.  Nicola Osborne, COBWEB, then gave a short presentation on using social media  to amplify and engage the community in citizen science projects, which led into discussion of the opportunities and challenges of using citizen science or crowdsourcing as part of science communication activities.  The discussion provided useful feedback for COBWEB and for the app developers, it also raised some interesting scenarios where these types of tools could be used in participatory science.

The COBWEB, FieldTrip GB and Open University team which arranged it hope to continue the discussions on citizen science through a new Google+ Community which they have set up. It is hoped that a follow up Google+ Hangout will take place over the summer for further discussion of both technical and social aspects, challenges, and issues of citizen science projects. 

Nicola Osborne from the COBWEB team gives her presentation as part of the Citizen Science workshop.

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Friday, May 30, 2014 - 16:00