Reaching Girls Through Citizen Science
» Suzanne Harper (1), Darlene Cavalier (2), Jennifer Shirk (3), Karen Peterson (4) 1. Girl Scouts of the USA, 2. SciStarter, 3. Cornell, 4. National Girls Collaborative
Part of the Citizen Science Association Conference, March 13-17, 2019. RCC302B
Girls are more engaged with STEM when they get to do hands-on activities, work in teams, and learn how they can help others through STEM. Citizen science, as a collaborative and immersive approach to hands-on learning through real-world research, aligns well with these practices.
Out-of-school experiences, such as Girl Scouts, are an essential part of the STEM education ecosystem because they offer STEM experiences that are engaging, responsive, and make connections.  Research suggests that engagement in authentic science experiences is required to develop fluency with STEM—we have to do science to learn science.  Educators and youth increasingly seek out ways to work with real data and scientific problems, particularly those that have a connection to their local community and environment.  Citizen science can uniquely address robust STEM learning goals through learning that is as much about personal interest and identity as it is about content and concepts.  This is why Girl Scouts has focused on creating citizen science programs — in partnership with SciStarter — as part of the organization’s national STEM initiative.
During this panel discussion, we will hear from representatives of organizations serving girls, girl-focused education, and the field of citizen science. The session will open with an overview of the new Think Like a Citizen Scientist program, developed in a partnership between Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) and SciStarter, including a demonstration of the Girl Scout section of the SciStarter site and examples of resulting Take Action projects. Building on this example, panelists will share research-based strategies for engaging girls, and data about participation and learning patterns of girls in several citizen science-based initiatives. The session will include many avenues of support and guidance for adult educators and volunteers interested in effective engagement of girls in STEM learning through citizen science.