The Simons Foundation just awarded a grant to SciStarter that will enable more communities, media partners, and websites to duplicate its valuable “Project Finder” feature and database of projects on their own pages. SciStarter aggregates more than 1100 citizen science projects on a single website in order to connect scientists and community leaders with anyone who wants to contribute to science. The Simons Foundation grant supports SciStarter’s creation of easy-to-use open and sharable APIs that can be implemented by other organizations.
A citizen science project can involve one person or millions of people collaborating towards a common goal. SciStarter already shares its database of projects with PBS Kids, the National Science Teachers Association, Discover Magazine and Astronomy Magazine. This grant will enable SciStarter to create open, customizable versions of the database to make it even more readily available.
“We want every single person to be able to participate in meaningful research. If more people can access the Project Finder, more people will have that opportunity,” said Darlene Cavalier, founder of SciStarter. “This also means that every project owner who adds their project to the SciStarter database will now benefit from unlimited distribution outlets, reaching millions of potential participants.”
Improving Citizen Science Tools
The announcement of this Simons Foundation Grant comes on the heels of another important grant to SciStarter. The National Science Foundation recently awarded a $300,000 Pathways grant to Arizona State University’s Center for Engagement and Training in Science and Society. Over the coming year, ASU will utilize that grant to develop a version 2.0 of SciStarter, which will create an identity management system to allow participants to more easily engage in multiple citizen science efforts, as well as track their projects, participation, and contributions to science. GIS implementation will help would-be participants find opportunities near them. They’ll also be able to find people and projects of interest using new privacy-protected profiles.
Both researchers and citizen scientists will benefit from all of the improved tools being developed by SciStarter and Arizona State University. These tools will help scientists to efficiently recruit hundreds of thousands of eager participants, and they will have the opportunity to organize and showcase their contributions, manage their data, and form new online/offline communities.