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Extreme citizen science in New Zealand

'Queen of Curiosity' Dr Victoria Metcalf talks about her role in this Sci21 video, a job which she describes as supporting lifelong curiosity in others.

Encouraging curiosity and a greater understanding of science can take many forms. Victoria says that although media and online methods can reach large audiences, they are relatively passive and may not lead to true engagement.

“It seems that reaching less is more, where the links between science, scientists and citizens are on a more personal level and longer lasting. Citizen science is one entry point where people can be more engaged in science.”

Citizen science projects often involve volunteer non-scientists in collecting or analysing data as part of a research study. Counting penguins in photos on the internet and submitting your results is one example.

“A type of extreme citizen science is participatory science where non-scientists are involved right from the ideas stage of a research project, and at every step of the entire process, through to communicating and sharing the results.”

She says participatory science creates long term relationships and can make a real difference in the communities of those who take part. Participatory science is being piloted in New Zealand as part of Curious Minds, an initiative to help all New Zealanders get involved with science and technology. Victoria is the national coordinator of the Participatory Science Platform.

“I believe this is a game-changer for how we do science in New Zealand and globally. This is the world’s first government led and nationally coordinated participatory science approach. Other countries will be watching what we do.”

Lionel Hotene and student participants.

Participatory Science Platform

The Participatory Science Platform is a Curious Minds initiative, with pilot programmes running in South Auckland, Taranaki and Otago. In 2015, funded projects included conservation, health, energy production, environmental monitoring, crop production and local ecology. Read more

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