I-Corps L: Leveraging Citizen Science Pathways To Connect Millions Of People With Citizen Science Tools
Through the NSF Innovation Corps for Learning Program, (I-Corps L), this project will develop ways to enable the SciStarter program to extend the promise of citizen science by connecting millions of citizen scientists with scientists in need of their help through formal and informal research projects. Citizen science is a fast growing field that engages the public in scientific inquiry through data collection projects and environmental monitoring using sensors, mini spectrometers, water testing kits and other tools. A challenge for the citizen science community has been access to the tools required to collect the types of data needed in citizen science projects. SciStarter facilitates broader participation in citizen science by reducing the barrier for volunteers to identify, acquire, and use the right scientific tools and instruments for each project. This I-Corps for Learning project will develop approaches to enable SciStarter to provide a larger number of citizen scientists with easier access to required and recommended instruments needed for meaningful participation in citizen science projects.
SciStarter aims to provide a holistic solution to the needs of citizen scientists that includes projects, support, and products such as training materials and consulting. SciStarter can be a catalyst in citizen science by connecting people to opportunities to engage and in lowering barriers to public participation in scientific research while creating a hybrid academic-consumer sustainability model. A central focus of this current effort will be establishing a sustainable and scalable means of enabling citizen scientists to obtain equipment and instruments in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The project will make use of elements already in place to expand the engagement of citizen scientists in new or multiple projects, to empower citizens in the process of citizen science, and to provide a useful, scalable and sustainable solution for scientists leading citizen science research projects. The extension of SciStarter will set the stage for greater inclusion of previously marginalized groups in citizen science activities and will extend to all forms of public engagement in science.