Combining science education with citizen science – experiences from a research institute-led science education project
Abstract Citizen science offers chances to gather observations and ideas and process data cost-efficiently while simultaneously increasing the outreach of the research. From the perspective of science education, it provides first-hand experiences about actual research work and personal contacts with researchers to its participants. Realizing this opportunity for mutual benefits, Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) has carried out a project combining citizen science with science education in co-operation with volunteering secondary schools. The project offered schools seven diverse research topics such as snow and birch pollen observations, development of weather service concepts and case studies in climate actions. Project work consisted of three parts: site visits, independent student work and reporting. Altogether 12 schools and over 200 students participated in the project during the fall and spring terms in the semester of 2014–2015. This paper describes the experiences from this first semester of the project. It is based on online questionnaires and interviews aimed at the participating students, teachers and researchers. Additional feedback was collected from an expert workshop. While actual research gains were modest, the satisfaction to the project was high within both the schools and FMI. Results encourage continuing this kind of cooperation and also studying further its educational impact.