NASA's Citizen Science Projects: Another avenue for engaging students
Poster Session Part of Friday Poster Session
Nick Lang, NASA Headquarters
Michael S. Kelley, NASA Headquarters
Marc Kuchner, NASA Goddard
Citizen science is a way for the public to actively contribute to scientific research. NASA supports multiple citizen science efforts (https://science.nasa.gov/citizenscience) that provide individuals with varying levels of scientific knowledge and training (zero experience to highly experienced) the opportunity to directly contribute to ongoing research projects, while also providing researchers with volunteers to broaden their data collection or image analyses. Traditionally, volunteers to these efforts are members of the public who have a passion or strong interest in science. However, these efforts also can be ideally suited for students who may just be learning what science is and/or how scientific endeavors are undertaken; these efforts also have the potential to decrease barriers for involvement in conducting science and to reduce science anxiety that students may experience. Consequently, we encourage the integration of established citizen science projects into science course curricula. NASA's citizen science efforts cover a variety of subject areas that touch on the Earth, Mars, Moon, Sun, and beyond providing a wealth of content options for instructors regardless of the class focus, student background, and mode of instruction (in person, online, hybrid). Project websites provide the necessary background information on the scientific questions addressed as well as tutorials on how to undertake a project. Visiting project websites also allows instructors to choose projects most relevant to their specific class (i.e., science topic and grade level). In our poster presentation we will outline some active NASA citizen science projects and describe examples of how they may be integrated into various course types and levels. We also will describe potential ways student learning could be assessed in these projects; assessment could include pre- and post-tests, reflection papers, exam questions, and class presentations. Much flexibility ultimately exists on how to integrate NASA citizen science efforts into courses and create authentic science experiences.