Citizen Scientists <--> Citizen Modelers

Citizen Scientists <--> Citizen Modelers--developing natural resource management strategies.

This project entitled “Sustaining ecological communities through citizen science and online collaboration,” is a National Science Foundation supported project intended to help engage individuals in using technology to conduct locally based, but regionally connected, natural resource stewardship projects. This project will use a series of web-based modeling and social media tools to engage Virginia Master Naturalists in conducting authentic science. This includes making field observations, engaging in collaborative discussions, graphically representing data, and modeling ecological systems. The goal of these efforts is to allow volunteers to engage in open-space land management.

Collaborators in this project include learning scientists, ecologists, and computer and information scientists from several higher education institutions, including Rutgers University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Colorado State University, the University of Hawaii, but most importantly the Virginia Master Naturalist volunteers.

Our research questions include:

  • How do citizen scientists engage in scientific practices through collaborative observation and modeling?
  • How do citizen scientists use models to negotiate shared understanding of scientific process?
  • How might citizen scientists and professionals build on each other's ideas in informal collaborative spaces?
  • How are collaborative representational tools used by citizen scientists to interpret their observations? 
  • How do collaborative representational tools in this learning environment help meet the land use goals of different stakeholders?
  • What is the nature of collective and individual knowledge that is constructed through participating in a citizen science community?

  1. Rutgers
  2. New Brunswick
Program in Science Learning