Category: Engaging citizens

Earth Challenge 2020: Research Questions to Help Citizen Science Scale

A message from the Wilson Centre, USA:


Your knowledge + Small digital acts of science = Answers to the world’s most pressing challenges

April 22​nd​, 2020 marks the 50​th anniversary of Earth Day. In recognition of this milestone a consortium of partners is launching Earth Challenge 2020 (EC2020) as the world’s largest coordinated citizen science campaign to date. By working with existing citizen science projects and building capacity for new activities, EC2020 will foster the collecting and integration of one billion open, interoperable data points to strengthen links between science, the environment, and society. In addition to integrating existing citizen science data, Earth Challenge 2020 will also create a new mobile application and app framework, available in six UN languages, to help communities around the world participate in citizen science.

To make sure that Earth Challenge 2020 is relevant to everyday people’s lives, we launched a public call for questions and insights around​“critical topics in environmental and human health” in fall 2018. We collected hundreds of responses, with engagement from all seven continents. After analyzing common themes with our partners, we identified six high-level questions to become focal points for our work:

1. What is the extent of plastic pollution?
2. What’s in my drinking water?
3. What are the local impacts of climate change?
4. How are insect populations changing?
5. How does air quality vary locally?
6. Is my food supply sustainable?

We’ve mapped United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to each research question to highlight their intersectional nature, create links to an international policy framework, and further engage the global community. Now, we’re reaching out to a range of communities, including experts working in citizen science and complementary research areas, to understand where exactly Earth Challenge 2020 can provide the most value and to invite potential partners to join us on this endeavor.

Contribute Your Expertise

Join us in developing the research methods we’ll use to guide the Earth Challenge 2020 effort. We understand that partnering with the research community is critical for making sure that Earth Challenge 2020 data are useful, usable, and used. We’re enlisting citizen science practitioners, other scientists, educators, and others to decide what data and information will be most helpful to answer these questions using citizen science. We’re organizing six Research Teams—each focused around one of the research questions.

Research Teams will work with us and each other to:

  • Take a critical look at how the research questions align with the relevant SDGs.
  • Decide how the SDG indicator and target structure will influence data collection and integration in Earth Challenge 2020.
  • Identify what citizen science data already exists.
  • Ensure existing data can be documented in a harmonized way.
  • Determine what new data should be collected using the Earth Challenge 2020 mobile app.
  • Help identify and/or design protocols for data collection, validation, and integration.
  • Identify complementary data and information, including data from sensors (Earth observations and low cost/ open source).
  • Offer strategic advice on other aspects of the project, including the design of educational materials and a what-you-can-do toolkit.

We’re seeking individuals to serve as volunteer advisors to research teams who:

  • Are committed to helping collaborative citizen science scale.
  • Have an interest in one or more of the research questions.
  • Value and/or have expertise in data interoperability.
  • Value scientific rigor.
  • Value and/or have experience in engagement, education, and impact evaluation.
  • Are willing to share their knowledge with a broader community.
  • Can commit to monthly or bimonthly phone calls and periodic emails.

Join a Research Team

Some of you previously expressed interest in becoming a member of one of the Earth Challenge 2020 research teams. Others of you may be learning of this project for the first time. Either way, please ​email Sarah Newman, Research Team Coordinator, at ​sarah.newman@colostate.edu​ if you are interested in participating AND indicate which research team question(s) you are interested in​.

Earth Challenge 2020 is a collaboration between the Wilson Center, Earth Day Network, and U.S. Department of State and many more partners. Learn more at: ​http://earthchallenge2020.earthday.org/

Seed Grants available for ACSA Members – call for applications!

ACSA is excited to announce a new initiative.  As a way of giving back and investing in our members we’ve started the ACSA Seed Grants.

The Seed Grants are $500 each and will be awarded to three ACSA members to seed their professional growth or their project’s growth in line with ACSA’s strategic goals of Participation and Practice. These goals are:

Participation – Encourage & promote broad and meaningful participation of society in citizen science so people become partners in creating science & increasing science literacy.

For example (but not limited to):

  • Activities that encourages participation in a citizen science project, could be a workshop, an event or a school outreach program or an app.
  • Development of a citizen science project that aims to meet these goals
  • Resources or training for citizen scientists participating in a project you run

Practice – Support the development of tools, methods, infrastructure, and resources to strengthen the practice, use and study of citizen science.

For example (but not limited to):

  • Attendance at a relevant course or event, such as a conference.  Can include registration, accommodation, flights
  • Development of tools or infrastructure that aims to meet this goal.

Who can enter

This grant is open to all current ACSA members.

How to apply

You nominate yourself by preparing a single document (Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)) that contains the following:

  • Proposal summary – a brief description of what the Seed Grant would be spent on (200 words maximum).
  • Judging criteria – a brief description of how the proposal addresses the judging criteria (2 pages maximum)
  • CV of applicant (maximum 2 pages)

Judging criteria

  1.  Participation and Practice.

In what way does the proposal address ACSA’s strategic goals of Participation and Practice.

  1. Effectiveness

How effective is the proposed activity in addressing these goals.

  1. Benefits and outcomes

How beneficial will the proposed activity and its outcomes be to the applicant’s professional growth or the project’s growth.

Key dates

Entries must be received by Sunday September 30, 2018 5pm AEDT.

The recipients of the Seed Grants will be announced at the ACSA Annual General meeting in November, and on the ACSA website by November 30, 2018.  Recipients will also be contacted by email or phone.

Terms and conditions

  • The grant is open to current ACSA members only.
  • The activity outlined application must be able to be completed within the year following the awarding of the Seed Grant.
  • The Seed Grants are 3 grants of $500 each.
  • Recipients will be asked to provide photos and a blog outlining how they intend to use the Seed Grants, for publication on the ACSA website. Additional information may be required for a year following the awarding of the Seed Grant.
  • Information provided by the recipients may be used by ACSA for promotional/publicity purposes. This may include, and is not restricted to, the information being used on websites, social media, printed material, press releases etc.
  • Personal information provided to ACSA can be used by ACSA, however such use will only be in connection with the Seed Grants.
  • The deliberations of the judging panel remain confidential. All recommendations and decisions taken are binding and final and no correspondence will be entered into on such matters.
  • The judges reserve the right not to award the grants if, in their view, the quality of entries is insufficiently meritorious.
  • No entries will be received or considered after the close of entries.
  • Failure to meet all conditions of entry will automatically disqualify an entry.

ACSA-WA Meet + Greet

By Agi Gedeon, ACSA-WA Chair

The WA Chapter of the Australian Citizen Science Association was officially launched in February 2018 at the Australian Citizen Science Conference, #CitSciOz18.

We had our first ACSA-WA public event on Saturday 12th May and invited citizen science practitioners, volunteers, scientists and end-users to meet and mingle to learn about many active and successful projects. It was a perfect sunny day in King’s Park and there was a good number attending. A few new faces as well. We heard about a number of interesting projects including an astronomy project to be launched by ICRAR, also a bit about DolphinWatch and fungi walks and a PhD project on red-tailed black cockatoos, another on non-insect pollinators and Birdlife Australia.

Deborah Bowie, MicroBlitz Project Manager, speaking to an attentive audience at the first public meeting of the Western Australian chapter on the day after the re-launch of the MicroBlitz project.

We celebrated with Microblitz which, after several months of planning, had re-launched new MicroBlitz apps and website the day before. We heard that Professor Andy Whiteley, the MicroBlitz Project Director chatted with Nobel Laureate Barry Marshall broadcast in real time to a few hundred School of Isolated & Distance Education (SIDE) students who tuned in to a very special science lesson.

All in all it was a most successful get-together and lots of people stayed on to exchange business cards, stories and experiences which is always a good sign of some excellent networking going on.

You can follow ACSA-WA on our Facebook page.