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Conference paper
Authors Karin Ekman
Published in EDULEARN19 Proceedings
ISBN 978-84-09-12031-4
ISSN 2340-1117
Publisher IATED
Place of publication Palma, Spain
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Language en
Keywords citizen science, digital environmental sensors, facebook
Subject categories Learning


The engagement of volunteers to participate in scientific and monitoring activities have become increasingly popular. In Citizen Science, volunteers are contributing to the scientific or monitoring processes by assisting with observations and classifications, or by creating data to e.g. monitor species or air quality. Volunteers are gathered in citizen science initiatives to engage in the science in society (as e.g. stakeholders in policy issues), or for civic mobilization to take action against e.g. environmental issues in collaboration with others. The Citizen Science initiatives that are engaging the public in the science of society and the civic engagement are well in line with the thoughts on scientific citizenship that Irwing (1995) described, with a more dialectic relationship between (and within) science and society. We have studied the community of a Citizen Science initiative that uses Passive sensing, where participants are collecting data particulate matter (PM 2,5 and PM 10) from small digital monitors for automatic sensing that are placed e.g. in their back yards. Even though the activities and outputs of the Citizen Science initiative are strictly technical, and do not promote civic engagement, the use of a social media community could open up for participants to interact and engage further. Our aim is to explore if participation in a Citizen Science initiative will generate further activities. We are interested in if their engagement in passive sensing of particulate matter will lead to e.g. civic engagement or engagement in the science of society. To do this, we used qualitative methods to study the participants of a citizen science initiative with a social media community. Data is collected through surveys, interviews and participant observation in the social media community. Preliminary findings on participant activity in the associated social media community will show how and in what topics the participants interact and engage in the social media community of the Citizen Science initiative. We will also show how they interact with the data from the sensor. We found that the participants engaged in line with the activities promoted by the Citizen Science initiative and the practice of the community. They are e.g. organizing own workshops to build more sensors, engaging in peer support and in e.g. out of the ordinary data. Little to no evidence of civic action was found, but there is evidence of engagement in the science of society. We discuss these findings in relation to contemporary research on public understanding of science and public engagement in science. We also discuss how (and if) the participants are developing the agency to act when engaged in place-based activities and the social and/or political mobilization that could emerge from this participation.

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