Category: Communication & promotion

Global Citizen Science practitioners invited to contribute to UNESCO’s 2021 initiative to promote Open Science

Open Science, the movement working to make research more accessible and transparent, has been developing since the late 1990s. Citizen Science, has been developing in parallel and benefits from many of the technological advances that have allowed Open Science to flourish.

As our networks have been working hard to raise the profile, understanding and uptake of Citizen Science so those encouraging the practice of Open Science have been doing the same with increasing success.

Now with an understanding of the importance of the widespread collaboration of communities and science to address urgent planetary challenges, UNESCO has identified the need to encourage science to be more connected to societies’ needs and to offer real opportunities to allow everyone to participate and benefit from what science can offer. They have established a process for developing a global standard setting Recommendation on Open Science which they expect will be adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in 2021. This will be a formal agreement which will acknowledge the importance of Open Science and agree global standards making this approach to research more valuable for policy makers, governments and society.

We are very pleased that Citizen Science has been recognised as a key element of Open Science and the global Citizen Science community has been invited to contribute to this process as part of the expert Advisory Committee. The first request was to develop a short paper on ‘Global Citizen Science perspectives on Open Science’ where the views of 63 Citizen Science practitioners from 24 countries (including 5 from Australia) were synthesised into the paper responding to UNESCO’s key themes. This paper can be found  here.

From our consultation it became clear that there is a consensus that Citizen Science is understood to be an important pillar of Open Science. There is also now significant expertise within both the Open Science and Citizen Science movements making this UNESCO initiative an opportune time for us jointly to consider how to maximise the opportunities of collaboration to make further advances together.

In order to “bring citizens closer to science”, the Citizen Science movement works to “leave no one behind” and develop co-creative processes which engage communities in research and learning which is relevant to their concerns. This is the particular aspect of Open Science which UNESCO has highlighted in this initiative which Citizen Science embodies, so we are confident we can make a significant contribution to this work.

Recognising this consultation is a significant opportunity for the advancement of Citizen Science, the Citizen Science & Open Science Community of Practice (CoP) has been established under the umbrella of the Citizen Science Global Partnership (CSGP). This CoP will allow members access to learn from and contribute to the networks of Citizen Science communities across the world to enrich the UNESCO consultation process for the Recommendation. If you are interested in joining this CoP please register here.

UNESCO is particularly keen to encourage Indigenous communities to contribute to this process from the beginning.

Any questions and for further comments please contact: Libby Hepburn (co-chair CSGP Open Science & Citizen Science Community of Practice) libby@atlasoflife.org.au.

Putting a Citizen Science Stamp on it!

By Michelle Neil

At the end of March 2019 I had just returned from the USA Citizen Science Association’s Conference in Raleigh NC and I had just submitted my ACSA blog about my adventures. I was still buzzing about everyone I had met, the sheer volume of people (over 800!) that were at the Conference and how well citizen science was presented plus the funding and grant opportunities and global collaborations that we talked about.

Yet back in Australia, I was frustrated.  Despite the Australian Citizen Science Association’s (and my) best efforts, many Australians still didn’t know what citizen science is or how anyone can contribute to increase scientific knowledge.

My husband, John, overheard my grumbling and, with the latest Australia Post Stamp Bulletin in hand, said, “You know what you need to do? You need to suggest to Australia Post to make a citizen science stamp! They have a website address in the Stamp Bulletin where you can enter your suggestion.”

What a cool idea, I thought. As kids, my husband and I both collected stamps. My husband is still a keen stamp collector or philatelist.  Stamps are collected all around the world as they represent cultural, historical and significant times, places, attitudes and events with often intricate, beautiful designs.

I grinned, jumped online and, taking note of the theme requirements, filled in the form as me, a keen citizen scientist of Australia.

A stamp represents a piece of a country’s cultural heritage

Imagine my surprise and delight a few days later when our ACSA National Coordinator, Amy, forwarded a query from Australia Post asking to do a series of citizen science stamps…  and it was forwarded to me, as Secretary of ACSA, to respond too! I rang the contact from Australia Post to introduce myself and explain that I was actually the one that sent the original suggestion and to make sure there was no issue of conflict of interest – which there wasn’t (phew!).

My first task from Australia Post was to send them an email explaining:

  • what is “citizen science” for their researchers,
  • the different types of citizen science, and
  • to give examples of citizen science projects and why they were innovative / important.

The response to this task was perhaps one of the longest emails I have ever written with well over a dozen uniquely Australian citizen science projects suggested, each with justification, plus the link to more than 350 more projects on the Project Finder for their researchers to browse as well.

After two weeks my Australia Post contact let me know that they had chosen to feature not one, but a set of four citizen science projects on stamps to launch in the first half of 2020. Those projects were:

  1. QuestaGame – Australia’s original gamified citizen science app where you go on quests to document the biodiversity around you. Also suitable for kids with parental assistance.
  2. Butterflies Australia from Australian National University, which is a brand-new citizen science project looking at butterflies, including invasive species in Australia and its territories
  3. Ngukurr Wi Stadi Bla Kantri (We Study The Country), Ngandi Elders, Ngukurr People, Yugul Mangi Rangers (in South East Arnhem Land, NT) and Macquarie University, worked together in a co-created project to “discover species new to science, found new populations of threatened species, preserved culturally-significant wetlands, and documented the community’s plants and animals in eight local languages”. Winner of the 2017 Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science.
  4. Zika Mozzie Seeker from Metro South Health, Queensland Health was the first citizen science-based early warning system to detect disease-spreading mosquitos in and around South East Queensland. Finalist for the 2018 and 2019 Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Eureka Prizes for Innovation in Citizen Science.

After this announcement I was asked to contact the citizen science project managers and ask for their agreement. Each of the managers were asked to provide some details, in their own words, about what their citizen science project was about and how citizens contributed to the research. The researchers were trying to get a feel for the science as well as the citizens that contributed. Artist Jonathan Chong was then asked to do some preliminary sketches and give a few options to our project managers. This went back and forth for several months until the final stamp designs were approved by all.

I learnt quite a few things about science communication and organisation during this time as I was the go-between for so many groups:

  • It is important to have only one contact for each group or I get people mixed up in my head (not good!).
  • Just because I wanted the stamps to come out in Global Citizen Science Month (April) doesn’t mean it happens (oh well).
  • Kriol is not a traditional indigenous language, but rather one spoken as a form of hybrid language across northern Australia – and someone has even translated Shakespeare to Kriol!
  • Mosquito eggs don’t look like frog eggs. They are not round but rather more cigar shaped (seriously – look closely at the stamp!).
  • Citizen science look fun as a cartoon on a stamp!
  • Just because you have finished the stamp designs doesn’t mean its over yet – there are still first day covers, stamp packs and more to design!

This stamp series, besides from being the first ever citizen science stamps in Australia, has a few other “firsts” in it as well. For example, butterflies have never been portrayed on an Australian stamp as anything other than a picture depicting actual colouring, wing shape etc – until now. This will be the first time the Kriol language will be used on a stamp – technically an Australian Government approved piece of paper winging its way around the world!

It really boggled my mind when I sat down and went through how many people and organisations were involved and how many citizen scientists and scientists too! For example, QuestaGame has thousands of citizen scientists all over the world and is based in Cairns!  Zika Mozzie Seeker has hundreds of citizen scientists but the results it produces can affect millions in Queensland and beyond.

Finally, in February 2020 we finished all the designs and approvals and the stamps were sent to the printers. I was so excited when the latest Stamp Bulletin came out in late April. You can find out more about the stamps on pages 14 – 16. The first Australian citizen science stamp sets available from the 19th of May 2020 at Australia Post and you can explore them here.

Brian Montgomery, Zika Mozzie Seeker project team leader with Michelle Neil, ACSA Secretary

“Join Flutracking” Prof Paul Kelly urges Australians

On 6 April 2020 Professor Paul Kelly, Deputy Chief Health Officer, encouraged all Australians to join Flutracking to help track the spread of COVID-19.

Following this  Dr. Craig Dalton, co-ordinator of Flutracking.net reached out to ACSA and asked for our assistance in spreading this message far and wide.

Participating in this citizen science project is easy, and will provide incredibly valuable information that can help us track COVID-19 and other illness in real time.

Join Flutracking at https://info.flutracking.net/ and complete a simple 30 second survey once a week.

Join Flutracking now.

City Nature Challenge is GO!

“Imagine how many species we could document if everyone in Australia just spent a few hours a day for four days documenting the biodiversity in their own backyard!”

Sick of staying indoors? Have you heard about the biggest backyard bioblitz Australia has ever seen?  For the first time ever the City Nature Challenge is being contested by four Australian cities. Due to COVID-19, the City Nature Challenge (Australian organisers) are also encouraging everyone in Australia to join in the fun and bioblitz their own backyards (or balconies) in the name of science!

It all takes place from the 24th to 27th April inclusive, but there are also daily challenges leading up to the big event, so get the kids involved too!

Please note: the iNaturalist app is rated as ages 4+ in the Google and iOS app stores however you do need to be 13 years old to have an iNaturalist account so m Mum or Dad will need to supervise 4-12 year olds.

Want to do something fun and a bit unusual? Sunday the 26th of April is Moth Night.  Put up a white sheet outside under cover and shine a light onto it. Turn off all other lights and wait 10 minutes for the moths to find the sheet. Then start logging those moths. This is a great one to get the kids involved in too!

Click here for more information about Moth Night.

Enjoyed Moth Night? Look out for Shake A Tree Day!

Reminder: When bioblitzing your own backyard be sure to log in your observations as “obscured” for geoprivacy reasons.

Check out City Nature Challenge Redlands City QLD, City Nature Challenge: Geelong, City Nature Challenge: Greater Adelaide and City Nature Challenge 2020 / Sydney for details of our Aussie city competitors.

 

For the full media release go to:

https://citynaturechallengeaustralia.wordpress.com/2020/04/08/city-nature-challenge-2020-media-release/

Welcome to Global CitSciMonth!

Citizen Science Month offers thousands of opportunities for you to turn your curiosity into impact. There’s something for everyone, everywhere! If you are #HomeSchooling, #StayAtHome or just having a #Staycation you can join a project or event from wherever you are to help scientists answer questions they cannot answer without you. There is something on every day (and night) during CitSciMonth and most are suitable for students to join in online. Check out the calendar for more information here such as the Grey Mangrove Hunt or join the ACSA team in the Stall-A-Thon where we will be helping to find a cure for Alzheimers with Stall Catchers.

Note: Check the time zones before you sign up for web events as this is a global events month.

Is your favourite citizen science project celebrating Global Citizen Science Month? Please let us know so we can share the word on the ACSA social media accounts!

Are you ready to BioBlitz?

With less than 50 days until the 5th City Nature Challenge (CNC) the four Australian cities competing are busy training citizen scientists and getting the word out on social media. International founders and organisers, Lila Higgins (Natural History Museum of LA County) and Alison Young (California Academy of Sciences), anticipate more than 40,000 people worldwide will make & share over 1 million observations of nature in over 230 cities from the 24th to 27th of April inclusive. All Australian iNaturalist research-grade observations are added to the Atlas of Living Australia via the iNaturalist Australia node. You can read more about that here.

Philip Roetman and ACSA SA recently hosted their first CNC training session. Part one of “Using iNaturalist” can be found on the Adelaide City Nature Challenge YouTube channel here.

Redland City is meanwhile preparing for its first training event from 4pm-6pm on Saturday the 21st of March at Indigiscapes. Entry is free and open for all ages.

City of Geelong is running information sessions as part of it’s annual Geelong Nature Forum. Click here for more information.

Download the iNaturalist app and head to Redland City (QLD), City of Sydney (NSW), City of Geelong (VIC) or Greater Adelaide area (SA) from the 24-27th of April to participate in the City Nature Challenge 2020!

ACSA-Vic event: How can Citizen Science contribute to public health?

Join our next Citizen Science event and discover how citizen science can contribute to public health.

When: 3pm – 5:00pm, 25 March, 2020
Where: Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre, 251 Faraday St, Carlton.
RSVP: via Eventbrite

Guest presenters:

  • Ann Borda, Centre for the Digital Transformation of Health – The University of Melbourne 
    Ann is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for the Digital Transformation of Health at The University of Melbourne. Ann has a PhD in information science from University College London which has served as a springboard for her commitment towards transdisciplinary scholarship. Ann’s own research focuses on participatory health, digital health literacy, and smart cultural heritage.
  • Ollie Conlan, Bicycle Network
    More than two thirds of Australians, including children, don’t get enough exercise. The stats tell us that too many people are spending too much time sitting and not enough time moving. It’s a problem that we’re fighting hard to solve. With your help, Bicycle Network is making it easier for everybody to ride a bike, every day.

Presentations will be followed by time for group discussion and networking. We encourage you to come along and share your project stories and develop our community of practice.

Registration and full details via Eventbrite.

 

The Australian Citizen Science Association convenes a community of practice in citizen science, exploring ways to make participation in research by non-scientists not just instructive, but also engaging, fun and social. Our thanks to our Chair, Kade Mills for hosting this gathering.

From your ACSA-Vic Committee
Chair: Kade Mills (Victorian National Parks Association)
Vice Chair: Tess Hayes
Secretary: Yvonne Cabuang (Melbourne Water)
Committee Members: Linden Ashcroft (University of Melbourne), Julian O’Shea (Unbound), Pat Bonney (Federation University) and Christine Connelly (Victoria University).

Entries to the 2020 Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science are now open!

Are you involved in a citizen science project that is building STEM knowledge or skills, empowering greater community engagement in STEM, or changing attitudes towards STEM?

Sponsored by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources the Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science is awarded for demonstrated excellence in citizen science practice, through an innovative research and community engagement project.

Who can enter?

  • The prize is open to individuals and teams.
  • People can either enter themselves or be nominated by others.
  • Projects of all sizes and scopes – from localised community focused projects to national scale initiatives – are welcome to enter.
  • Activity entered for the prize must have taken place in the past 5 years

It’s a brilliant opportunity to get your project noticed; finalist representatives will be invited to attend the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes Award Dinner in Sydney, and the winner receives $10,000 in prize money.

Find out more and enter now.

Entries close 7pm AEST Friday 15 May 2020.

2019 winners, Frog ID Team, with the Hon. Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Minister for Industry, Science and Technology

Adelaide takes on the Challenge!

Have you heard of the City Nature Challenge?

Last year, 159 cities were involved globally, with more than 35,000 participants, but none in Australia.

We are changing that this year, with four cities representing our nation: Greater Adelaide Area (SA), Geelong (VIC), Redland City (QLD) and Sydney (NSW).

We are involved in an international competition to find and document plants and wildlife in cities across the globe. We hope you can make a contribution!

How to get involved:

You can participate as an individual and we hope you can spread the word to get friends and colleagues involved, too!

  • When? Any time from April 24 to April 27 – you can participate for four minutes or four days (any time you can spare)!
  • How? Find wild plants and wildlife in Greater Adelaide and record it using the iNaturalist app or website, work solo or work as a group. Your contributions along with everyone else’s will appear on the iNaturalist website ready for identification.
  • Why? Participate to learn more about local nature, demonstrate the importance of nature in Adelaide, make a contribution to global knowledge about nature in cities, and have some fun along the way!
  • Where? You can participate anywhere in Greater Adelaide, which includes all of the metropolitan area and extends to places like Kapunda, Murray Bridge, Goolwa, Victor Harbor and Aldinga (see the map when you register)
  • Need help? Come to a training session!
    • Urrbrae: 4–5pm Wednesday 26 February (click here)
    • Urrbrae: 6–7pm Wednesday 26 February (click here)
    • Pt Adelaide: 6–7pm Thursday 2 April (click here)
  • Find out more about the City Nature Challenge 2020 in Adelaide: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2020-greater-adelaide
  • Questions? Ask us; reply to this email if you have any questions!

We hope you can participate and spread the word!

Katie

On behalf of ACSASA

The Australian Citizen Science Association, South Australia

The City Nature Challenge is a global event organised by Natural History Museum Los Angeles County and California Academy of Sciences.

Follow City Nature Challenge 2020 Adelaide on social:

Citizen Science Bushfire Response Project Audit

The unprecedented continental scale of the current Australian bushfires is devastating. They have led to the loss of lives, homes, habitats and biodiversity on a huge scale.

In this time of extreme loss, we are buoyed by the amazing response of individuals and communities in this time of crisis.  We believe there is a role for citizen science to assist across multiple disciplines, at scale, in many research and monitoring capacities to contribute to important and valuable science that is needed now and into the future.

ACSA is seeking to support conversations and plans – both short and long term – that help further connect the citizen science community to contribute to the complex efforts required to learn from and understand the impact of the bushfires (see ACSA bushfire response).

The first step we are taking is an audit to gather as many research projects as we can that include fire – bushfire/forest/wildfire as their focus and citizen science as part of their methodologies. We have developed the ACSA Citizen Science Bushfire Response Project survey and we would be very grateful if you could circulate this widely through your networks to all those who might already be working in this area. We are seeking projects across a broad spectrum of subjects, from biodiversity to human health that use a wide range of methodologies, from projects which require on the ground work, to purely online projects where everyone can contribute.

This information will be used to create a publicly available list of active projects and ACSA will work with partners to identify a number of projects that have the potential to contribute on a national scale.

Contact:  Libby Hepburn

libby@atlasoflife.org.au   +61 458 798 990  Merimbula,

New South Wales, Australia