Our time has come!
As a kid, perhaps you wanted to grow up and be a scientist…and baseball player, famous chef, president, or first [fill-in-the-blank] astronaut.
Then came middle school and the emergence of hormones/testosterone and stereotypical overtures reminding you that science is for geeky boys or socially dysfunctional girls. High school just ramped all of this up but at least in middle school you did some cool classroom science experiments.
Some science-loving adolescents (like the Science Cheerleader) weren’t swayed by any of this, but couldn’t afford college, started a family or chose other careers.
Well, have I got news for you folks! People like us, untrained in the sciences, are clamoring to be engaged in science at rates unmatched since the days of Ben Franklin. A growing number of so-called “citizen scientists” are not waiting for invitations to participate in science policy discussions or hoping the next generation will improve its dismal science literacy rates. Instead, they are jumping in to change the way science gets done. And having a lot of fun in the process!
Citizen scientists monitor water quality, tag butterflies , count birds, record earthquake tremors and observe and record celestial patterns. Here are three good resource sites where you can learn about other cool citizen science opportunities: Terrie Miller’s Citizen Science blog, Cornell University’s Citizen Science ToolKit and the Society for Amateur Scientists.
In July, news of Sky Survey,an international collaboration mapping a large section of the universe, spread over the web. Within a few months, more than 100,000 volunteer citizen scientists classified more than 1 million galaxies.
John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, notes that as “more and more amateurs and the researchers they work with realize the potential, and people see that their contributions matter, the era of the citizen scientist will explode.”
Are more scientists learning to trust the public’s capacity to learn, draw conclusions, and contribute to science discussions? It appears so.
I hope they invite the public to do more science.
An important step towards building teamwork between the public, scientists and the government.
Are you a Citizen Scientist? Tell us about your experience!
Where do you think the Citizen Science movement is heading? What does the future hold?
-The Science Cheerleader