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Practitioner Workshop for Deploying SciStarter Affiliate Tools To Support Strategic STEM Learning: 1845241

Principal Investigator: Darlene Cavalier
CoPrincipal Investigator(s): Steve Gano
Organization: Arizona State University

This workshop is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understandings of deeper learning by participants. The project will conduct a two-day workshop that will gather citizen science project leaders to address barriers in citizen science research and infrastructure: The inability to holistically study the movement, engagement, persistence and learning outcomes among volunteers engaged in multiple projects. The past few years have been a time of tremendous growth in awareness of and interest in citizen science projects. The project will address an increasing gap preventing projects in three now-popular categories (apps, projects hosted on government websites, and event-based projects) from adopting the digital tools created and available through SciStarter.com. The workshop will bring citizen science project leaders together to deepen an understanding of their needs regarding the adoption of digital tools, developed by Scistarter, which will result in more comprehensive data in support of research in informal science learning outcomes of volunteers engaged in citizen science across projects and platforms. The in-person and online contributions from participants will guide the development of resources and tutorials to scale adoption.

SciStarter is a repository of hundreds of citizen science projects. Through previous NSF support, SciStarter developed digital affiliate tools which project leaders use on their own websites to enable analytics (statistics gathered from user activity online) to help projects more easily recruit and coordinator volunteers, help volunteers track their contributions across projects and platforms, and help researchers holistically study the movement and learning outcomes across projects and platforms. The proposed workshop will facilitate iteration and adoption of the tools among three classes of projects, not originally accounted for, which have dramatically increased in numbers during the past year: 1) app-based projects, 2) projects hosted on government websites, and 3) event-based projects.. By co-designing and implementing iterative versions of the tools among these projects, the project will address important gaps in research, enable a richer, more comprehensive understanding of volunteer engagement patterns, and discover opportunities to build a stronger community of citizen science practitioners who collaborate to enhance volunteer learning communities. The project will culminate in improved research in this field and improved management of citizen science projects for appropriate recruitment and retention that fosters STEM learning.

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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