This is the first page of the Science for Citizens case
Darlene--I think the issue you may be facing is the length of the form projects have to fill out to be part of the Sci4Cits...
Hi, I'm Darlene Cavalier and I co-founded Science for Citizens.net with Michael Gold. We're pleased to have our work featured in NSF's Media & Informal Science Learning website, and hope this discussion will lead to useful feedback and new potential collaborations/partnerships for us as we continue to develop our site. If you have or know of a quality citizen science project not already in the Sci4Cits project finder, feel free to add it to the site. The more opportunities we can present to volunteers, the better. Thank you.
This is a wonderful resource. I tried it and found at least three projects my family could jump in on, we picked the Monarch Waystation Project. Professionally, I look forward to sharing this with our curriculum development team for project ideas for teachers, post-visit materials and more!
I became aware of this resource before it was posted here, and just recently shared it with a group of soon-to-be elementary teachers. It's a great resource for them, particularly these teachers-to-be who are searching for ways to engage their students in science. I hope to see an increasing number of projects; I was disappointed with the projects that came up when I selected "food."
I think this is a wonderful resource--I certainly found some great projects I didn't already know about and the way they are organized and presented is very helpful. I had one question: I noticed that one of the top-rated projects is something called Laser Harp that doesn't look like it's a true citizen science project, though it certainly looks worthwhile. There's no data collection or sharing in it, for example. I read in the case description that the goal is to get to 1,000 projects in the next year. Darlene, are you expecting these all to be real citizen science projects, or will some of them be just fun or interesting science things to do or learn about online? I hope you stay focused on citizen science, but can see how it would be tempting to become more of a general clearinghouse. I would be concerned that the less focused the project becomes, the less it will add compared to more general ways to look for resources on the Web (like the search engines). You would have to get pretty unfocused to reach where the generalists are now but they keep looking like they're going to create more specialized ways to find things. What do you think?
Darlene--I want to echo everyone's positive input about what you and Michael are doing. What do you see as the next steps for Science for Citizens at this point? E.g. is it just aggregation of projects (no mean feat to get to 1,000) or are you also looking at ways to connect them to each other in some way? Or is there something else you see on the horizon for you?
Thanks so much for the terrific and very helpful comments! You will begin to see some upgrades to the site in the coming weeks. One (important) improvement will be in the functionality and user interface of the Member Blogs. In addition to creating a clearinghouse for citizen science/participatory research projects, we hope Sci4Cits will serve as a social networking base camp of sorts for citizens scientists through these blogs which are linked to Facebook and Twitter. We're providing the platform and tools (free) for folks to share observations and tips, post questions to other volunteers or practitioners, or start citizen science meet-ups if they'd like.
Our hope is that once we finish building out the full functionality of the site, individuals and communities, scientists and the lay public, will find ways to use the site as a platform to:
-network and collaborate
-participate in informal conversations
-continue to populate the number of projects in the Project Finder
-continue to support research (and researchers) while providing life-long learning opportunities for volunteers
-and perhaps even build apps we haven't even thought of
Ultimately, this site is intended to be driven largely by user-generated content and creativity. Until then, Michael and I are working hard to finish phase one, then build out new wings (Resources and Videos for example), while keeping the front page content fresh every week.
I'd like to ask for your thoughts on something. One of our challenges, in this early stage, has been persuading citizen science project directors to register and add their projects to the Project Finder. We've made the process very simple (and free) so we're not quite sure why it's been a challenge to move people from being "so excited to hear about Sci4Cits" to the relatively simple process of adding their project to the site. We can--and have been--adding the projects but it's almost always better when someone associated with the project actually adds the projects (instead of us). What can we do to help capture their enthusiasm and move them to action? What are some of the barriers to entry here?
Thanks for your thoughts!
Darlene--I think the issue you may be facing is the length of the form projects have to fill out to be part of the Sci4Cits site. We actually have that same issue here, even though our "add a case" form is a lot shorter than yours (i.e. we've had groups say they want to be featured on the site, but aren't willing to fill out "add a case" to do so). Of course, some of what we ask for our form is arguably more challenging to provide than anything you ask for, but I could see some projects intimidated by the length of your form alone. And yet I don't know that I would change what you're asking for, because your form leads to very rich and helpful descriptions of the projects.
Maybe there's a happy medium here--maybe you start out with a shorter form that just contains the basics, you look at what's submitted, and for those projects you like, you ask the owners to submit the rest of the details (by sending them a second form). Or, in cases where you'all are going out and finding the projects yourselves, you fill in as much as you can, and then you contact the project owners and get them to give you the rest of information (I assume that the reason you find things work better when the owners submit is not only the quality of the information but that they have some ownership in their entries on Sci4Cits). A shorter, more basic form might also encourage more people who participate in (but don't own) these projects to alert you to them, which I assume would be valuable as well. In many cases folks who are merely participants may lack the motivation or, in many cases, the project knowledge to fully fill out your form.