As part of European Researchers’ Night, each year VA (Public & Science) coordinates a mass experiment that involves schools across the whole of Sweden.
Every autumn, 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. In 2018 more than 12,000 pupils participate.
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:
- Nutrition: How much fruit and vegetables do children and teenagers consume in Sweden?
- Climate change: How is climate change affecting autumn leaves?
- Sociology: What risks do young people perceive in their daily lives?
- Food science: Is food stored at the right temperature in different parts of the refrigerator?
- Health/physics: Does the acoustic environment in schools affect pupils’ ability to learn?
- Climate change: What can tea bags and soil decomposition rates tell us about climate change?
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 have been 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 is a project aiming at investigate light pollution.
If you’d like to find out more, please contact:
Fredrik Brounéus, Researcher & Press Officer at VA, fredrik (a) v-a.se