White House Recognizes Importance of Citizen Science

“Citizen Science” movement gaining ground through organizations including SciStarter


PHILADELPHIA, Penn. (March 23, 2015) – Citizen science engages the public in important research, and SciStarter is leading the way for scientists, enthusiasts and students to connect and collaborate on research. Even as President Obama recognizes the intelligence and effort of students at the White House Science Fair, the White House itself is joining and supporting the citizen science movement.

The White House will showcase that anyone can participate in citizen science by committing to install a new rain gauge in the First Lady’s Kitchen Garden, becoming part of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) citizen science network of over 20,000 active participants who serve as the largest source of daily precipitation data in the United States.

“We’re seeing tremendous increases in citizen science participation among both youth and adults,” said Darlene Cavalier, founder of SciStarter and a professor at Arizona State University’s Center for Engagement and Training in Science and Society.  “Citizen science has been proven to advance all areas of serious research and I’m thrilled to attend the White House Science Fair this morning where the emphasis is on education and the future; a future that will be shaped by remarkable teens including  Tiye Garret-Mills, 17, from Colorado who will be honored at the White House event this morning for developing a low cost method to identify leaves. With global citizen science projects underway to identify tree species, this may become a crucial tool. Our goal at SciStarter is to empower the public by connecting them to meaningful opportunities to engage in STEM, while providing access to the tools and resources that will enhance their experience and support their valuable contributions.”

To that end, SciStarter is joining forces with Public Lab as part of a national effort to create a new Citizen Science Tool lending library and store to enable more than 50,000 people the opportunity to participate in scientific inquiry. This library and store will broaden the scope of tools available to schools and the general public for research.  SciStarter and Public Lab are working in collaboration with the Museum of Science Boston and Arizona State University’s Center for Engagement and Training in Science and Society.

Quality research is important, so SciStarter is working with STEM curriculum developers and educators from the Broward County, FL School District (the 6th largest in the country), educators from the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, and a distributed network of educators to align 500 citizen science projects featured on SciStarter, with Science and Engineering Practices.  The projects will be searchable by their Practice, making it easier for educators to find the projects most suitable for their environment.

This focus on exemplary practices is a key part of SciStarter’s leadership in the newly-formed Citizen Science Association (CSA).  SciStarter and the CSA are working together to align 500 citizen science projects with Science and Engineering Practices.   The CSA will highlight exemplary practices and support the integration of STEM learning objectives within citizen science projects. To further promote integration of citizen science with STEM learning, the CSA will create a way to nominate outstanding examples of projects or resources that support citizen science for STEM learning. Exemplar projects will be highlighted on both the Citizen Science Association website and SciStarter. With support from the National Science Foundation, the CSA is being shaped by the input of over 60 Association members.

 The White House called attention to these important SciStarter citizen science initiatives through the White House Science Fair Fact Sheet distributed today.


About SciStarter

SciStarter aims to enable people to contribute to science through informal recreational activities and formal research efforts. The web site creates a shared space where scientists can connect with citizens interested in working on or learning about joint research projects. SciStarter currently features 1,000 searchable citizen science projects and recruits participants through partnerships with Discover Magazine, the National Science Teachers Association, Public Library of Science, WHYY/NPR, Pop Warner Youth Scholars, and more.



Categories: Citizen Science

About the Author

Arvind Suresh

Arvind Suresh

Arvind Suresh is science communicator and a former laboratory biologist, he has a Master’s degree in Cell Biology and Molecular Physiology from the University of Pittsburgh. He enjoys reading, teaching, talking and writing science. Connect with him on Twitter @suresh_arvind.