Engaging Learners with Chemistry: Projects to Stimulate Interest and Participation
Chapter 11: Can Participation in a Citizen Science Project Empower Schoolchildren to Believe in Their Ability to Act on Environmental Problems?
Published:27 Jul 2020
K. Kruse, T. Kiessling, K. Knickmeier, M. Thiel, and I. Parchmann, in Engaging Learners with Chemistry: Projects to Stimulate Interest and Participation, ed. I. Parchmann, S. Simon, and J. Apotheker, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2020, ch. 11, pp. 225-240.
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Citizen science projects help schoolchildren gain insights into topics of current scientific research and the research process itself. This creates an opportunity to provide students with the skills needed to become critically-thinking engaged citizens. Despite highly positive motivation and feedback during many citizen science projects, research into the effects on schoolchildren is still rare. The evaluation of the perception of schoolchildren participating in a citizen science project regarding anthropogenic litter at beaches shows that they (especially between the ages of 10–13), may indeed transform their understanding of the natural sciences. However, an increase in student confidence to act on this environmental problem (e.g. by communicating with peers) was only found in older students. Participants generally did not realize that this was the first step towards a solution for the problem by taking part in the scientific investigation. By placing greater emphasis on the important role of schoolchildren in the project, not only as data collectors but as valuable collaborators and multipliers of information, can this become the first step in unfolding the full potential of citizen science projects.