Public Lab Research note

Introduction to Student-Led Community Science Projects

by bhamster , purl | March 02, 2023 21:52 02 Mar 21:52 | #38731 | #38731

A version of this story by Purl Feldman is published in Public Lab's Community Science Forum, Issue 18. Read more from this issue here.

This past spring, Public Lab was able to implement its Community Science in the Classroom curriculum with a fantastic cohort of nine educators and over 200 students in participation. This curriculum, written by Mimi Spahn Sattler, centers students as knowledge producers rather than knowledge consumers as they immerse themselves in local environmental issues and learn about grassroots organizations and efforts that have been successful around the world. They also critically consider their role within their campus, local community, and on a more grandiose scale, in relation to our dynamic natural world. This curriculum helps guide students on a path toward becoming scientifically literate citizens who can help implement tangible change in their community networks.

Students from seventh to twelfth grade varied between working in small groups or, in some cases, as a class, to uncover answers and potential solutions to an array of environmental concerns. These ranged from unrecorded mercury pollution from a nearby petri-chemical plant in the soil of a school campus with a vegetable garden, to the high frequency of potholes in New Orleans and how this socioeconomically affected locals, to the estimated hundreds of pounds of plastic in a thirty-eight mile range along the Mississippi River, as hypothesized through a field trip day's worth of trawling along a half-mile stretch of the rivers edge.

Students creatively and assertively developed their own research thesis, methods of data collection and formally summated their data through both visual and written mediums of storytelling, as shown through some examples in this Community Science Forum. Thank you, youth Community Scientists of 2021!


@bhamster has marked @purl as a co-author.

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