Tuesday, 11 March 2014

UK Science Minister champions citizen science and Big Bumblebee Discovery project

Speaking at Jodrell Bank earlier today the Science Minister, David Willetts, announced a new UK Charter for Science and Society*. During his speech the Minister made several references to citizen science projects and CEH stating,

“Indeed one of the secrets of our success is what we now call citizen science, which delivers large volumes of research quality scientific data, fast...”

... and then adding...

“Citizen scientists don’t just do astronomy; they have been observing the natural world for centuries...scientists at NERC’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology are involving 3,000 schools across the country in monitoring bumblebees to see if they are indeed declining and why. This project is especially exciting as young people can develop and test their own hypotheses.”

The schools project referred to by the Minister is the Big Bumblebee Discovery, running this year and involving CEH, the British Science Association, EDF Energy, and thousands of school children around the country.

During his speech Mr Willetts also referred to CEH’s longer-term work on getting more members of the public involved in science, saying,

“Much of the resurgence of citizen science has been driven by academic and scientific institutions. We hope more research teams will consider whether they can outsource some of their data gathering to the public. Some fantastic guides have been produced to help researchers explore this option, including one by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the Natural History Museum.”

You can read our Citizen Science Guide, and the accompanying review of citizen science, here.

And finally, in even better news for citizen scientists of all ages, the Minister has announced that BIS will be running a new Science and Society Challenge grant scheme saying,

“We would be delighted to see some exciting new citizen science projects amongst the applicants.” 

Additional information

Great Britain: the best place in the world world to do Science - speech by UK Science Minister David Willetts

Introducing the Charter for UK Science and Society (BIS blog post)

Charter for UK Science and Society

*The charter aims to enhance debate on science policy, to increase transparency in the sector and to empower young people of all backgrounds to become engineers and pioneering scientists of the future.

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