Old weather: citizen scientists in the 19th and 21st centuries

April 1st, 2015 | RESEARCH

In 2010 the Royal Society journal Biology Letters published an article, ā€˜Blackawton beesā€™, which caused something of a sensation: the findings, on beesā€™ foraging patterns, were original, but the true originality lay in the fact the experiments were in part devised, and the paper written, by a group of 8- to 10-year-old children at Blackawton Primary School in Devon (Blackawton et al., 2011).[1] The article attracted considerable media attention, troubling, as it did, the boundaries of professional science, and distinctions between scientific practice and education, not to mention the hierarchies of age and experience. It has not, so far, created a surge of scientific papers written by schoolchildren, but it remains a significant and compelling example of what might be possible if we adopt a more inclusive vision of science. The Blackawton bees project has strong resonances for our own AHRC Science in Culture project, ā€˜Constructing scientific communities: citizen science in the 19th and 21st centuriesā€™, which is based at the Universities of Oxford and Leicester, in partnership with the London Natural History Museum, the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal Society (www.conscicom.org).[2] The project explores, and contributes to, the growing movement of what has come to be known as ā€˜citizen scienceā€™, principally through the online Zooniverse platform (www.zooniverse.org), founded by co-investigator Chris Lintott, but also through historical research into the networks and communities who contributed to science in the 19th century, during a period when professional structures were only just emerging.


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Team Members

Sally Shuttleworth, Author, University of Oxford


Identifier Type: doi
Identifier: 10.15180/150304

Publication: Science Museum Group Journal
Volume: 1
Number: 3

Related URLs

Full Text via Science Museum Group Journal


Audience: General Public
Discipline: Education and learning science | History | policy | law | Life science
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Citizen Science Programs | Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits | Museum and Science Center Programs | Public Programs