Designing a citizen science program: Scientific and educational perspectives.
Prysby, Michelle *,1, 1 Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, Townsend, TN
ABSTRACT- Citizen science, or the involvement of the public in research, is a potentially useful tool for both educators and ecologists. Like other research tools, it requires thought on how to best apply the tool and an understanding of both its capabilities (e.g. facilitating the study of ecological systems over long temporal scales and broad spatial scales) and its limitations (e.g. errors associated with large numbers of observers.) Scientists initiating a citizen science program must first examine the nature of their research goals, including the geographic and temporal scales of the research and the necessary level of data accuracy and precision. Successful citizen science programs must also strike a balance between scientific and educational goals. To make their programs effective and sustainable, scientists also should consider educational objectives and how participants' activities will achieve these objectives. This presentation draws from a variety of sample programs in order to model best practices for identifying appropriate research and education goals, recruiting and retaining project participants, and overcoming common pitfalls in citizen science projects. Highlighted are several projects in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, many of which focus on long-term ecological monitoring and large-scale biodiversity inventories.
Key words: education, outreach
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