In the last two weeks of September, more than 3,000 Swedish pupils will be out on the hunt, with their mobile phones at the ready. Pokémon? No, notice boards! In the Notice Board mass experiment, researchers and pupils will be undertaking pioneering research together.
What is the function of the physical notice board in the digital age? Who is saying what? And why? With the help of pupils, researchers want to investigate the type of information that is conveyed, and how text and images are used for different kinds of messages. From Svedala in the south to Malmberget in the north, the content of notice boards will be documented during the last two weeks of September.
“It is the first time that Swedish notice boards are being documented in this way. For us, as researchers, the project would be impossible to conduct without the help of the pupils,” says Christopher Kullenberg, who researches citizen science at the University of Gothenburg.
Schools across the whole of Sweden are participating in the project and it is also the first citizen science humanities project to be run in Sweden, in which pupils are helping researchers.
The pupils’ task is to photograph a notice board, write down all the information on it, categorise it, and finally send everything to the researchers via a dedicated app. Pupils are also asked to translate notices in other languages into Swedish. One of the research questions investigates how different languages are used on notice boards.
“We hope to involve pupils with multiple language skills to help with the translating. We also want to investigate if there are any differences between different parts of the country,” says Johan Järlehed, a language researcher at the University of Gothenburg.
The mass experiment is part of the European science festival, Researchers’ Night being held on 30 September. Known as ‘ForskarFredag’ (Researcher Friday) in Sweden, it is being run in 30 cities. Its aim is to arouse curiosity in research, to show how exciting research can be and to provide an insight into what it involves and what researchers do.