5236 Views (as of 05/2023)
  1. Rebecca Jordan
  3. Rutgers University
  1. Alycia Crall
  3. National Ecological Observatory Network
  1. Troy Frensley
  3. Virginia Tech
  1. Steven Gray
  2. http://jonnybomb.com/umasslab/#home
  3. Assistant Professor
  5. Michigan State University

Collaborative Science

NSF Awards: 1227550

2016 (see original presentation & discussion)

Adult learners

This project is intended to help engage individuals in using technology to conduct locally based, but regionally connected, natural resource stewardship projects. We will use a series of web-based modeling and social media tools to engage citizen scientists in conducting authentic science. This includes making field observations, engaging in collaborative discussions, graphically representing data, and modeling ecological systems. The goal of these efforts is to allow volunteers to engage in open-space conservation

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Discussion from the NSF 2016 STEM For All Video Showcase (12 posts)
  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Co-Principal Investigator
    May 17, 2016 | 09:38 a.m.

    The abstract is in the future tense (“We will…”) , but I assume that the project’s well under way. How have you dealt with a potential bottleneck: finding enough experts to serve on the"expert panels"?
    It is good to see data analysis as part of the cycle— many citizen science groups at least in the past have collected data (fun!) and sent it off to the experts (hopeful!) never to hear results, or see how their work has had an impact on the research (discouraging!). Do you have some case studies that show the cycle at work?

  • Icon for: Rebecca Jordan

    Rebecca Jordan

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 11:27 a.m.


    Yes, projects are well on their way! We have not had a bottleneck…what is nice is because of the virtual platform, we can draw from a national (and theoretically, international) pool of experts. The site helps to organize and directs ideas, so it often doesn’t take up much time for the experts. I served for one project for which my background in science was well suited. I was surprised at how little time it took!

    We recently had an article in Conservation Biology highlighting some of the impacts of volunteer work. One group was able to collect and analyze data and use it to get a 200K grant from the Soil Conservation District to make some changes to riparian zones!

  • Icon for: Richard Hudson

    Richard Hudson

    Senior Executive Producer
    May 17, 2016 | 09:39 a.m.

    After seeing the video, I visited your website, and was interested in learning more about the projects you’ve already underway. Tell us about the decision to borrow from the the “Mission Impossible” theme to attract visitors to citizen science. (Full disclosure: I’m the PI of the recent SciGirls series on citizen science, and we found the fundamental authenticity and broad social impact of citizen science powerfully engaging on its own. It’s not a hard sell!)

  • Icon for: Rebecca Jordan

    Rebecca Jordan

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 11:32 a.m.

    Our initial needs assessment indicated a demographic that may respond well to mission impossible. We used professional consultants for this. There were many others that may have even been better, but we couldn’t afford them!:)
    We are finding that our demographic is changing, however. I have been working with another group in Baltimore (as part of another project, but individuals are now joining collaborativescience.org…this is their video: https://youtu.be/QxDCA00tRzw). Because we can’t afford recruitment tailored to each demographic, we are also considering working with something like SciStarter to help advertise and make connections.

  • Icon for: Jerry Valadez

    Jerry Valadez

    May 18, 2016 | 02:37 a.m.

    The video is an interesting approach. Can you describe the demographic you are targeting with the video? How do you get teachers and students involved? The website is helpful but does seem open to fraudulent postings. Do you have that problem at all?

  • Icon for: Rebecca Jordan

    Rebecca Jordan

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 09:44 a.m.

    The demographic for this video was older, closer to retirement age and through retirement. Individuals report primarily being white and college educated. As our audience is broadening, we are making substantial changes to the webpage.
    Teacher recruitment happens through attendance at national and regional meetings (e.g., NARST, NJ Science Teacher Convention, etc.) and through working with the Biology Teachers of NJ association.
    If individuals wish to submit data, they need to sign up for a specific project and then they are given a password. They also attend some virtual meetings. We have not noted any fraudulent posts, but that is something to think about. Thanks!

  • Icon for: Robert Tinker

    Robert Tinker

    May 18, 2016 | 09:51 a.m.

    The video tells us little about this project, but the award summary does. This is the latest in a multi-decadal string of projects that are intended to engage students in environmental measurements: GREEN, NGS Kids Network, Global Lab, GLOBE, Monarch Watch, to name only a few longer lived ones. What appears unique to this project is its focus on research. Let’s hope that this project tackles the challenges these projects face so we can all learn how to design better projects so that they can flourish.

  • Icon for: Rebecca Jordan

    Rebecca Jordan

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 10:20 a.m.

    Well, we are tackling challenges!:) In all seriousness, the programmers and learning scientists on this project are top notch…I am humbled by what we have been able to accomplish! The data are so rich, I could continue with this until retirement!

  • Icon for: David Oonk

    David Oonk

    May 18, 2016 | 02:40 p.m.

    I like the focus on localized citizen science into regional solutions! I’m curious about how the collected data is used by the scientific community. In previous citizen science projects, quality of the data has been a roadblock when recruiting scientists. Additionally, how much do you train the citizens in data collection, and what does that process look like?

  • Icon for: Rebecca Jordan

    Rebecca Jordan

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 04:29 p.m.

    The extent to which the scientific community uses the data varies by group. In some cases, the group uses the data to advocate for a management action or for further funds to implement a more detailed study. In other cases, the data have been analyzed by scientists. In all cases, the citizens are trained to collect data…there are a series of short online modules that highlight the value of standardizing data collection. They also participate in a virtual conference where data needs are explicitly addressed. Then as appropriate for the project, individuals are trained directly. For example, in the case of water monitoring, for most states, a specific protocol needs to be followed, so individuals undergo that training. In other cases, individuals have sought advice from the experts on how to be trained. For example, one group was close to a university and a professor trained some of them as they trained their undergraduate researchers. It varies. We also address data validation and encourage our groups to provide evidence of this. I think it is the latter that has gained the respect of particular scientists at least.

  • Icon for: Joni Falk

    Joni Falk

    Co-Director of CSR at TERC
    May 22, 2016 | 06:43 a.m.

    I enjoyed this video and the fact that it could be reused on your site as an intro. Thanks for sharing it. I would have liked to have seen a few examples of the projects that have been engaged in by communities, and the ones that have been most successful in collecting data and having an impact. Maybe that will be for the sequel :) Thanks again.

  • Icon for: Rebecca Jordan

    Rebecca Jordan

    Lead Presenter
    May 22, 2016 | 09:49 a.m.

    Thanks for the comment! We will definitely be making a better video!

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