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.
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.
We have been running mass experiments since 2009. Here you can find an information folder about the Swedish mass experiments.
Examples of our most recent experiments:
- 2016 The Notice Board 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.
- 2017 The News Evaluator Experiment on source criticism investigated the type of news in young people’s online news feeds.
- 2018 The Lady Bird Experiment combined ladybird monitoring with artificial intelligence to learn more about biodiversity.
- 2019 The Star-Spotting Experiment investigated light pollution through counting stars in the night sky.
- 2020 The Food Waste Experiment investigated whether more information can result in less food being wasted.
The 2021 mass experiment, the Housing Experiment, will investigate the accessibility of Sweden’s housing for older people.
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.
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).
Finding the Vasa cannons is an international project, in which members of the public will be invited to join the search to find out what happened to the cannons of the Vasa, a 17th century Swedish warship.
For further information about the mass experiments and citizen science, please contact Fredrik Brounéus.