Citizen Science Corners - Involving your Library Community in Solving Big Questions Using Science.

The Collins Library team at Loreto College Coorparoo joined forces with industry professionals at Sativus Pty Ltd to create a dynamic and unique space that encourages, motivates, and inspires curiosity to engage high school students in Citizen Science projects. Our ‘Citizen Science Corner’ is a research space where students can apply skills they learn in class to help real-world scientists develop innovative solutions to global research challenges.

The project is an ongoing collaboration between the library team, the Science Department, school Science Ambassadors and Sativus industry professionals to enhance Citizen Science engagement at Australian school which generates evolution of science literacy and research skills that engages them beyond the classroom. The lightening talk will highlight that Citizen Science is a global concept, which can be easily implemented at a local level, whereby public or community members can support real life scientists in their research. In doing so, new scientific knowledge and understanding is generated that benefits science and society.

The Citizen Science concept allows for all levels of scientific understanding, so that all library patrons can be included. The Loreto College Citizen Science (CS) Corner has provided opportunities for students of all skills and abilities to engage and participate in real-world research, including verified students with learning needs and neurodivergent student, through projects including observation of light pollution, assisting with the identification of flora and fauna, looking for antibacterial microbes in soil and counting and identifying butterflies. As such, the CS Corner is inclusive, adapting activities and forms of engagement to meet student needs and interests, which has enabled greater participation within our school, but also in the wider College community.

This lightening talk will encourage others to establish their own vibrant science learning space in a school, university or public library space, where patrons and visitors will benefit from interacting with a variety of Citizen Science projects. Evidence-based research will be shared to provide support for others to create their own CS Corner. Whether you have a small corner or an entire room, a CS Corner will allow participants to think scientifically beyond their day-to-day life and contribute to real-world research.

Our program also ensures participants gain skills such as teamwork, communication and a newfound enthusiasm for engaging with science-based information. Those who engage with our innovative and dynamic spaces quickly discover the enthusiasm that is embedded in the Citizen Science community.

Dr Helen Weston

Program Leaders Library and Research, Loreto College Coorparoo

Author Bio

Dr. Helen Weston is currently Program Leader Library and Research at Loreto College Coorparoo, Queensland. Helen has worked in school and tertiary libraries across Queensland and overseas where she completed extensive research on culture and information use. Her current research is grounded in the student experience of High Impact Teaching Strategies, Reading Habits and the role of Libraries in the Citizen Science movement. The Citizen Science Corner in Loreto College library allows students and staff to engage with a variety of citizen science projects whilst educating the broader community about the positive personal, local and global impacts that occur when people engage at any level in scientific research. Helen was a 2023 finalist for the QLD College of Teachers TeachX awards, in the category of Innovation for her work in the Citizen Science and Libraries.