About the Program
This National Science Foundation funded project seeks to expand the reach of Citizen Science for middle-school youth. Typically, citizen science—or public involvement science—involves the general public in collecting data that can be analyzed and interpreted by professional scientists. This project will carry citizen science a step further, enabling youth to design, carry out, and even report on their own research questions under the mentorship of science advisors at the University of Minnesota. By giving them the freedom and responsibility to design their own projects the students will gain a greater understanding and appreciation for science, and will grow to see themselves as scientists.
Integral to the project will be a thorough analysis of what works in helping participating youth to ask, research and report on their scientific questions. We will involve our participants in action research to identify training methods that successfully enable youth to engage in scientific research. We will analyze our citizen science research teams to understand the optimal combination of skills, characteristics, and support measures to enable youth inquiry.
Important to this project is to spread the methods and lessons learned widely. Starting in 2012, we will offer training for teachers, nature centers, 4-H and other youth service staff on leading successful citizen science teams to enable youth inquiry. We would like this project to become a model that can be implemented across the state and nation.