As part of European Researchers’ Night, each year VA (Public & Science) coordinates a citizen science project that involves schools and the general public across the whole of Sweden.

A teacher and her pupils taking part in the 2018 mass experiment – The Ladybird experiment. Photo: Erik Cronberg.

Every year, thousands of Swedish pupils of all ages are involved in helping researchers gather huge amounts of data in a citizen science project. 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 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.

Previous mass experiments include:

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.

In the 2017 experiment on source criticism, researchers and pupils investigated the type of news in young people’s online news feeds.

The 2018 mass experiment is called The Ladybird Experiment. More than 12,000 pupils was signed up by their teachers to help researchers develop an artificial intelligence that will be able to identify Sweden’s more than 60 species of ladybirds.

The 2019 Star-Spotting Experiment measure and map light pollution at a local level across Sweden, and also in Ireland, UK and Spain.

If you’d like to find out more, please contact:

Fredrik Brounéus, Researcher & Press Officer at VA, fredrik (a)


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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| Helen Garrison

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 citizen science initiative combines ladybird monitoring with artificial intelligence

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 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’ buried tea bags help to advance climate research

In 2015, Swedish school pupils helped scientists to bury over three thousand tea bags in the countryside. The Tea Bag Experiment is a mass experiment to investigate soil decomposition rates in different parts of the country and how the process is being affected by climate change. The results have now been published and show that the first phase of decomposition is particularly affected by a warmer climate.

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