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