Connect with us


About SciStarter’s “Participant API,” used by 50+ citizen science projects (and counting)




I thought it would be helpful to provide a description of what SciStarter’s Participant API is and why a growing number of projects and platforms are implementing it and becoming SciStarter Affiliates in the process.

A little background. SciStarter had been “merely” a database where project scientists would add their projects and citizen scientists would find projects. As PBS, Discover, NSTA and others started embedding our Project Finder, more and more people were able to discover and engage in citizen science. As a research platform, one that imports and exports records with the GAO’s Federal Inventory of Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing database ( and others, SciStarter is a useful tool to understand the landscape of projects and have a basic understanding of what projects people are viewing, saving, and clicking to join. But once someone clicked on a project and left our site, we had no idea of whether or not they actually engaged in the project.

Through National Science Foundation-funded research, we spent a lot of time interviewing citizen scientists and project leaders and we learned that people engage in multiple projects at any given time. We also discovered growing interest among: 1) citizen scientists who wanted to track their contributions across all their projects; 2) higher ed institutions (including Arizona State University, where I work) who wanted to translate that collective evidence into some form of accreditation; 3) classrooms and organizations (including the Girl Scouts of USA) who wanted to provide curated projects to their students/members *and* have evidence of engagement across those projects; and 4) researchers and practitioners who wanted to study the movement, barriers, and outcomes of citizen science across the landscape (this is typically analyzed in silos within a single project or platform).

All of these would depend on our ability to know whether someone participated in a project, which project, and how frequently.


To this end, the National Science Foundation provided support for SciStarter, in collaboration with ASU and NC State University, to create digital tools (we call them ” SciStarter Affiliate Tools”) that center around a “Participant API”. More than 60+ projects and platforms now use the affiliate tools to record and share “events” from their website and app and transmit the reports to SciStarter.

The “event” is a contribution. This might be an observation shared through the app or website, or it might be an online classification, depending on the project. For apps that have multiple projects or protocols, each event report includes the project or protocol ID. This does not interrupt the user’s experience. This information only takes into account SciStarter users.  The API uses safe, encrypted methods so the project can easily check to see if a citizen scientist who is contributing to their project is a SciStarter user. We don’t see or save emails, nor do the projects using the API.  We adhere to the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws. We are transparent on our end and we ask projects to include a visible confirmation message for anyone coming from SciStarter. We clarify this process on a stand-alone cookies page, and, if someone requests that we remove their SciStarter profile, we delete all historic data as well.

This enables projects that use the API to understand what other projects their anonymized participants (from SciStarter) view, save, join and contribute to, in addition to their project. This enables citizen scientists to have evidence of their contributions across projects and platforms. This enables teachers, scout leaders, and other facilitators to support their members’ progress and have evidence of participation (including the frequency of participation).

By way of a few examples:Girl Scouts USA customized a portal on SciStarter and selected a handful of projects that fit their criteria for their Outdoor STEM badge: Think Like a Citizen Scientist. Troop leaders are directed to the portal on SciStarter where they view information on the curated projects. They select and assign projects to their troops. As the troops contribute to the projects–even if they contribute through apps or other websites–their contributions are credited in their dashboard and shared with their troop leader who can then award badges once the girls completed the assignment. Girl Scouts USA has an administrative level analytics dashboard on SciStarter so they can gain a better understanding of engagement, retention, attrition, and interest levels at the troop and council levels. They use this information to improve their Outdoor STEM badge programs.

Broward County School District in FL, NC State University, and a host of corporate volunteer programs customized similar portals on SciStarter and their communities reap the same benefits of easily discovering curated, vetted projects aligned with their interests and locations (including those that use the Participant API), and producing evidence of engagement across projects. This data is so valuable to project owners and organizational partners because it provides quantifiable analytics to help them understand the effectiveness of their program and to help them better understand and respond to the needs of their communities.

We are building something similar for the NOAA-funded project led by the Museum of Science ( )  to engage diverse groups of participants at 28 science centers around the United States in active learning and resilience planning around heat waves, sea level rise, extreme precipitation, and drought.  This project also hinges on the use of the affiliate tools so we can report out information on engagement levels and whether or not this approach leads to ongoing engagement in citizen science (and, if so, in what types of projects).

SciStarter and ASU (with support from the Institute for Museum and Library Services) recently launched similar programs and portals with public libraries through the development of Citizen Science Kits for loan through libraries. We provide tools for projects that require or can be enhanced through the use of sensors or tools/instruments. The projects currently featured in the kits, use the Affiliate Tools.  The research centers around our ability to support libraries as community hubs for citizen science and the Participant API enables us to learn whether or not participants 1) engage in projects, 2) sustain engagement and, if so, in what types of projects.

NSF recently provided SciStarter additional support to host a SciStarter Affiliate Tools workshop at the Citizen Science Association conference on 3/12 in North Carolina. At the workshop, we will onboard dozens of additional projects to support their integration of the Participant API. (NSF Abstract #1845241 “Practitioner Workshop for Deploying SciStarter Affiliate Tools to Support Strategic STEM Learning”). 

Taken together, these efforts help scale participation, measure outcomes, and lay the groundwork for accreditation.

Are you a project leader or platform developer interested in becoming a SciStarter Affiliate? Are you an organization interested in customizing a portal on SciStarter to engage your community in curated projects and access critical analytics to understand engagement levels? Contact to let us know.


Darlene Cavalier


Source link

قالب وردپرس


Yukon and Northern BC First Nations tackle climate change using Indigenous knowledge and science




YUKON, June 18, 2021 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is working together in partnership with Indigenous and Northern communities in finding solutions to adapt to the impacts of climate change in the North.

Today, Minister of Northern Affairs, Daniel Vandal, along with Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency), Larry Bagnell, highlighted progress on three unique, Indigenous-led projects that are helping communities in Yukon and Northern British Columbia adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.

The Minister and Parliamentary Secretary met virtually with Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN) to learn about their community-led climate change monitoring program. C/TFN has partnered with Tsay Keh Dene Nation (TKDN) and Chu Cho Environmental of Prince George, British Columbia, to build a community-led monitoring project that examines environmental data and Indigenous knowledge to create a holistic picture of how the climate is changing across C/TFN and TKDN traditional territories. The project combines tracking of current and historical climate trends with knowledge shared by Elders while also providing opportunities for youth mentorship and climate change awareness.

The Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) is also leading a unique project to assess the impacts of climate change within their traditional territory. Climate change is causing many of the culturally significant ice patches to melt, exposing organic artifacts to oxygen and leading to rapid deterioration. The TRTFN ice patch mapping project will involve performing archaeological assessments to prevent the degradation of artifacts. Research will be guided by traditional knowledge, Elders and oral histories, when available, and heavily involve community, Elders, youth and Knowledge Keepers.

The Pelly Crossing Selkirk Development Corporation is leading the Selkirk Wind Resource Assessment project through the installation of a Sonic Detection and Ranging (SODAR) system. The initiative includes a feasibility study leading up to the construction of a renewable energy facility, including wind, solar and battery energy storage. Expanding clean energy within the region will have direct benefits for communities, including reduced reliance on diesel, job creation and revenue generation for Selkirk First Nation. 

These projects are delivering important environmental, social and economic benefits that lead to healthier, more sustainable and resilient communities across Yukon and Northern British Columbia. They also build community clean energy capacity and help to avoid the impacts of climate change.

Continue Reading


Atlantic Provinces Ready For Aquaculture Growth




Aquaculture is an important economic driver for rural, coastal and Indigenous communities, and Atlantic Canada is well positioned to increase aquaculture production as global demand for sustainably sourced seafood grows.

That is why the ministers responsible for aquaculture in the Atlantic provinces have agreed to the ongoing development and management of their industries based on common principles. A new memorandum of understanding has been signed by the four ministers, which extends the previous agreement signed in 2008.

“In a time when food security is especially important, it is good to see our aquaculture industry has grown steadily and is poised for continued growth in 2021 based on environmentally responsible, science-based policies and practices,” said Keith Colwell, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Nova Scotia. “Our Atlantic partnership continues to help the industry grow sustainably.”

Cooperation between the provinces and the aquaculture industry has led to improvements in pest management, environmentally sustainable aquaculture methods, aquatic animal health and policies to support the shared use of marine and freshwater resources. It also aims to align regulation and policy between the provinces to make the regulatory requirements easier to understand by industry and the public.

Each province has a comprehensive and robust legislative and regulatory framework to ensure environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and public accountability. The provinces update their legislation and regulations regularly. Nova Scotia revamped its regulatory framework in 2015; New Brunswick received Royal Assent for a new Aquaculture Act in 2019 and is working on the supporting regulations; Newfoundland and Labrador completely revised its aquaculture policy in 2019; and Prince Edward Island has recently drafted a new Aquaculture Act.

The ministers have agreed to continue to use science-based evidence for management decisions, thereby increasing public and investor confidence in the Atlantic Canadian aquaculture industry.

Continue Reading


COMING SOON: A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0




We all want the same thing: a clean and responsible energy future for our children and future generations while continuing to enjoy a high standard of living.

On December 11, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a new climate plan which he claimed will help achieve Canada’s economic and environmental goals.

The proposed plan by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) entitled “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy” will have an initial investment of $15 billion of taxpayer’s money. It is built on 5 pillars of action:

  1) Making the Places Canadians Live and Gather More Affordable by Cutting Energy Waste

2) Making Clean, Affordable Transportation and Power Available in Every Community

3) Continuing to Ensure Pollution isn’t Free and Households Get More Money Back

4) Building Canada’s Clean Industrial Advantage

5) Embracing the Power of Nature to Support Healthier Families and More Resilient Communities  

In my paper, “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0” I will objectively critique each pillar in the government’s new climate plan and provide alternative solutions to the same issues.

  This is an alternative plan that supports workers, protects lower income earners and creates economic growth while respecting the environment and focusing on the dignity of work.

  This plan abandons virtue-signaling projects and relies on Canadian ingenuity to build our economy and restore Canada’s role of responsible leadership in the world.

Continue Reading