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Students become the link for science and society

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The occasion: On Monday 16 December, the Greek and Cypriot OpenAIRE NOADs completed yet another successful series of collaborative Open Science webinars with a presentation about Citizen Science in Education. Guest speaker, Evgenia Kypriotis from Ellinogermaniki Agogi (EA), explained the subject and gave an overview of activities that support citizens involvement in scientific projects. The main focus of the presentation was based on EA's experience in communicating to students the necessary skills and ethos needed to realize the power of science as well as their own capabilities in research conduct.

A new approach: The webinar moves away from traditional approaches followed in Citizen Science such as the OpenStreetMap or iNaturalist that are tied to a specific field of scientific practice. Moreover, it introduces the role of students as scientists who collect data and perform analyses or experiments in laboratories. This new approach of engaging with students in data science, which by default is an interdisciplinary field, is more adjustable and applicable to scientific projects despite areas of practice. New technologies, social networking platforms, smartphones, online communities and the Internet of Things have contributed vastly to the uptake of citizen science in education. The aim is to create a real connection with society by identifying and exploiting the potentials of today's society while increasing data literacy and students' participation in STEAM.

The European perspective: There are several initiatives and organisations that lead Citizen Science in Education in Europe. Among them, Evgenia mentioned the Social Networks and Archival Context - SNAC project, the Open Schools for Open Societies - OSOS project and OpenAIRE for its "Open Schools Journal for Open Science" activity.

Starting with the SNAC Project, she explained that Ellinogermaniki Agogi in collaboration with the National Observatory of Athens (NOA) provide seismographs to selected Greek schools for them to use and incorporate in the course of their teaching methods. Students and teachers have the opportunity to collect and analyze real data in real time, organise hands on activities, conduct their own research and then publish their observations as concrete scientific results.

In order to support the whole research lifecycle, EA collaborates with the Hellenic Data Service "HELIX" and OpenAIRE. The former provides free tools for data analysis and a repository for data(sets) documentation and preservation, while the latter supports reports, posters and relevant papers publication in the Open Schools for Open Science journal. The journal follows a peer-review process and accepts primary and secondary students papers produced under the supervision of their teachers. The goal is to engage students in real-life scientific projects that provide access to data useful to research centers or to local stakeholders for driving new solutions such as through the development of innovative earthquake disaster prevention systems.

In fact, EA in collaboration with NOA, Athena Research Centre (ARC) and ELLAK recently organised a Hackathon that called all schools in Greece to come together, learn how to analyze data using Python to develop software for an early warning system for earthquakes. That proves to be a great example where Citizen Science benefits both the scientific community and society. 

In focus: Data credibility was at the core of discussions that followed the presentation. It was stated that HELIX plays a significant role in that because it offers a trustworthy environment for data manipulation, sharing and preservation of curated data(sets) in a way they are readable and usable by anyone.

Evgenia also highlighted the paradigm of Evaggeliki Scholi, a private school in Greece, that took part in the Open School Journal for Open Science activity and published STEAM oriented articles co-authored by its students.

More To Be Announced... Closing the webinar, the OpenAIRE NOADs for Greece and Cyprus made a commitment to continue the series of Open Science webinars in 2020 with a schedule that will be made available in early January!

Take part in the Open Schools for Open Science activity!

Learn more about the Hackquake:
https://www.openaire.eu/citizen-science-activities-in-openaire

Hackquake data in HELIX: https://data.hellenicdataservice.gr/dataset/f4dfd3fc-42ee-4a60-91a6-3e32af449654

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03 Aug 2020

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