Citizen Science/Open Spectrophotometer Project/Introduction

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What is Citizen Science?

[Citizen science]: a term used for projects of scientific work in which networks of volunteers, in general with no specific scientific training, perform or manage research-related tasks such as observation, measurement or computation.

General Objectives of Citizen Science

Citizen science has two distinct and complementary sets of objectives

  • The use of citizen-science networks often allows scientists to
    • accomplish research objectives more feasibly than would otherwise be possible
    • provide them with new ways to get engaged in the democratic and policy process.
  • Citizen-science projects aim to promote public engagement with the research, as well as with science in general.
    • Citizen science is one approach to informal science education.
    • Citizen science also seeks to find new ways to engage nonscientists in true decision-making about policy issues that have technical or scientific components

Examples of Citizen Science Project

  • The longest-running citizen science project currently active is the Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count, which started in 1900 (
  • A very well-known and interesting example of citizen science programs is the World Water Monitoring Day (
    • This initiative is actually the model for ours
    • Official Project Description: World Water Monitoring Day™ (WWMD) is an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies.
    • How: An easy-to-use test kit enables everyone from children to adults to sample local water bodies for a core set of water quality parameters including temperature, acidity (pH), clarity (turbidity) and dissolved oxygen (DO). Results are shared with participating communities around the globe through the WWMD Web site.

Greenwave ( ; Budburst(

Biotechnology and Citizen Science

  • Biotech and Citizn Science
    • New Field for Citizen Science
    • Ripe with Opportunities
    • But More Importantly: It Needs CS!!!
  • Reason: Convergence of Several Sets of Factors
  • Reason 1: Potential for Large Changes in Society
    • A New Industrial Revolution?
    • Improvement of Quality of Life (see vaccines)
    • Downside: Catastrophic Dangers (Health, Environment..) ????
  • Reason 2: Biotechnology Raises New Complex Set of Issues
    • Ethical Issues: Challenges to Existing Notion of Life / Religion etc…
    • BioWarfare (worse than nuclear age?)
    • Political Issues (More inequalities, discrimination?..)
    • Economic Issues: Intellectual Property Laws, Access to Product ( Agriculture, Health…)
  • Reason 3: Combination of Scientific / Technological Factors
    • Potential for Rapid Development (New Foundational Technologies, Synbio)
    • Science is Complex: little practical understanding
    • Science is Remote: few contacts with the technology (unlike IT)
  • Consequence: Risk of a Rift between scientists and public
    • Potential clampdown on biotech
    • Alienation; development of democratic deficit….

Goal of our Citizen Science Project

Need to improve mutual understanding; Developing OS Platform for Collection, Aggregation and Display of Biological Data Developing Art as Interface between Science and Public Engaging Public Challenging Public