Sowing the Seeds: Citizen Science and Mobile Apps in Education and Beyond
ID: 613 / 337
Proposed Symposium Title: Sowing the Seeds: Citizen Science and Mobile Apps in Education and Beyond
Sergio Chozas1,2, Alice Nunes1, Helena C. Serrano1, Fernando Ascensão1, Susana Tapia2, Cristina Máguas1, Cristina Branquinho1
Affiliations: 1 - Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal 2 - Sociedade Portuguesa de Botânica (SPBotânica) – Portugal
Over the last decades, there has been a sharp decline in global biodiversity. Land-use change, habitat fragmentation, and climate change are key human-induced causes contributing to the current biodiversity crisis. However, public awareness of the biodiversity crisis is low, particularly for plants, creating a barrier to their conservation. Moreover, in a world where a large part of the human population lives in urban areas, the contact of people with nature is declining, a tendency that will be exacerbated in the future. Indeed, many authors have highlighted the "extinction of experience" — a term for the growing alienation between people and nature — as the primary cause of this lack of public awareness of the biodiversity crisis.
In this work we show how citizen science and mobile apps can be used as educational tools to raise awareness about plant diversity among students and the broader public. We examine the outcomes of three BSc-level formal education activities as well as two informal education initiatives. We discuss the potential of these approaches as educational and outreach tools and show that citizen science and mobile apps are remarkable tools for connecting students and the public with nature and engaging society in environmental challenges such as biodiversity conservation. We also explore the need for developing metrics to determine the real impact of these new approaches and propose some of them, such as an increase in the number of students in Flora disciplines and master’s theses, plant conservation activism and observations in iNaturalist by former students.