2024 journal article

Facilitator organizations enhance learning and action through citizen science: a case study of Girl Scouts’ Think Like a Citizen Scientist journey on SciStarter

Environmental Education Research.

By: H. Smith n, C. Cooper n, K. Busch n, S. Harper*, A. Muslim*, K. McKenna*, D. Cavalier*

UN Sustainable Development Goal Categories
13. Climate Action (Web of Science)
15. Life on Land (Web of Science)
Source: ORCID
Added: July 26, 2023

Engagement in citizen science can result in participant outcomes including increased science and environmental literacy and civic action. One factor which may increase the likelihood of these outcomes is facilitation by groups such as employers, schools, or other organizations. We examined how a partnership between SciStarter and Girl Scouts of the USA facilitated participation in citizen science to shape participants’ learning and civic engagement. Between July 2017 and February 2020, participants from over 200 Girl Scout troops completed the Think Like a Citizen Scientist Journey, consisting of science learning activities, participation in an environmental citizen science project on SciStarter, and a Take Action Project (TAP). Troop leaders provided open-ended descriptions of TAPs which we analyzed qualitatively. Responses provided evidence of learning outcomes spanning informal science learning goals, Girl Scout Leadership Experience outcomes, and Girl Scout STEM outcomes. Participants’ TAPs overwhelmingly related to science and environmental topics (81%) and the majority sought to educate and inspire others (66%), reaching audiences of peers, adults, the general public, and civic leaders. This program demonstrates the potential for facilitator organizations to leverage existing citizen science projects to promote learning outcomes, civic science education, and community action with participants as young as 4–5 years old.