Every autumn since 2009, thousands of Swedish pupils of all ages have been helping researchers gather huge amounts of data. These so-called mass experiments are of mutual benefit: the researchers get more data than they could otherwise easily collect, the pupils get the opportunity to participate in real research, and the teachers get material and methods based upon state-of-the-art research to integrate in the curriculum.

Pupils burying tea bags in the 2015 mass experiment, the Teabag Experiment.

VA (Public & Science) coordinates the mass experiments as part of the European science festival, European Researchers’ Night.  Schools from across the whole of Sweden are involved.

The mass experiments efficiently link education to research, establishing valuable contacts with researchers and giving students insights into research methods and scientific thinking.

VA helps the researcher to design an experiment whereby students gather data guided by their teacher. Research projects are also selected according to how well they fit into the curriculum. Instructions and teachers’ manuals are jointly developed by the researcher and VA, and researchers also communicate directly with individual teachers and students using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Examples of mass experiments to date are:

The 2016 Notice Board mass experiment examined the function of the physical notice board in the digital age and won an Open Knowledge Award for Best Open Science Initiative. The results have also been published in the open access scientific journal PLOS One.

The 2017 experiment was on source criticism and researchers and pupils have been investigating the type of news in young people’s online news feeds.

The 2018 experiment combined ladybird monitoring with artificial intelligence to learn more about biodiversity.

In the 2019 experiment The Star-Spotting Experiment participants are measuring light pollution by counting stars in the night sky.

VA’s annual mass experiments are examples of citizen science. Our experiences from conducting them are shared in an essay published in the Journal of Science Communication that discusses how mass experiments/citizen science can stimulate scientific literacy and an interest in science while generating scientific output.

Here you can find an information folder about the Swedish mass experiments.

Other citizen science-related projects

VA is currently part of a collaboration project aiming to create a national portal for citizen science in Sweden, which started in January 2018. More information about the project, ARCS, can be found here.

VA is also a partner in an EU-funded project called EU-Citizen.Science that will develop a European platform for citizen science, together with 13 other European organisations. The three-year project started in February 2019

VA is also a member of ECSA (European Citizen Science Association).

For further information about the mass experiments and citizen science, please contact Fredrik Brounéus.

Latest about the mass experiment:

| Vetenskap & Allmänhet

Star-Spotting Experiment shortlisted for international science engagement prize

The Star-Spotting Experiment, VA’s 2019 citizen science project to investigate light pollution, was shortlisted for the 2019 Falling Walls Science Engagement of the Year competition. Project manager, Lena Söderström was invited to Berlin in November to present the project in the final of the competition at the Falling Walls Conference. Here we talk to her about the experience.

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| Vetenskap & Allmänhet

Swedish Star-Spotting Experiment off to a sparkling start

The Star-Spotting Experiment, this year’s citizen science project in connection with the European Researchers’ Night events in Sweden, is now well underway. Members of the public across Sweden are helping scientists to measure light pollution by counting stars in the sky and recording the data in a specially-designed app. Here we catch up with Lena Söderström, Project Manager at VA (Public & Science), who is coordinating the Star-Spotting Experiment, to find out how the project is progressing.

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| Vetenskap & Allmänhet

Mass star-spotting experiment to investigate light pollution in Sweden

Street lamps, illuminated signs and buildings – lights at night improve safety and make cities more attractive, but have also been shown to have negative effects for humans and animals. The more light there is, the fewer stars you can see in the night sky. In this year’s mass experiment, more than 11,000 pupils, families and other members of the public will help scientists measure light pollution by counting stars in the sky.

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| Vetenskap & Allmänhet

Swedish teenagers participate in experiment to assess credibility of election news

Around 2,500 teenagers from across Sweden have been helping researchers investigate the credibility of political news in the run up to the Swedish election. The News Evaluator Election Special was an experiment designed to find out more about where Swedish teenagers get their digital news on election issues from and how reliable they perceive the news to be.

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| Vetenskap & Allmänhet

ECSA 2018 – post-conference reflections on citizen science

The second international conference of the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) was held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 4–5 June 2018. VA’s Fredrik Brounéus and Dick Kasperowski from the University of Gothenburg gained inspiration for their current work building a Swedish national portal for citizen science. And, as often with conferences, they returned home with more questions than answers.

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| Vetenskap & Allmänhet

Swedish citizen science initiative combines ladybird monitoring with AI

Biodiversity is under threat. Can an app that recognises different species of ladybirds help provide a solution? Pupils and members of the public from across Sweden are being invited to get involved in real research to find out in a mass experiment being run as part of the 2018 Researchers’ Night in Sweden. The Ladybird Experiment is a joint initiative between the Swedish Museum of Natural History and the civil society organisation VA (Public & Science).

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| Vetenskap & Allmänhet

Swedish pupils to develop source criticism tool in unique research project

Press Release 18 May 2017

Fake news is a topic that is currently generating much debate. But what kind of news is streaming through young people’s digital news feeds? And how trustworthy do young people think this news is? For the first time, researchers and pupils from across Sweden will together be investigating these questions in a mass experiment being run as part of the 2017 Researchers’ Night in Sweden.

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