As part of European Researchers’ Night, each year VA (Public & Science) coordinates a mass experiment that involves schools across the whole of Sweden.

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

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:

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 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 aims to investigate light pollution at different geographic locations.

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

Fredrik Brounéus, Researcher & Press Officer at VA, fredrik (a) v-a.se

Latest about the mass experiment:


| 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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| Vetenskap & Allmänhet

CARROTS AND APPLES ON TOP AS SWEDISH PUPILS HELP SCIENTISTS MAP THEIR EATING HABITS

Press release 29 May 2015.

Swedish children and teenagers are pretty diligent at eating fruit and vegetables, according to the results of a mass experiment organised as part of Researchers’ Night. In the Vegetable Experiment, scientists at the Swedish National Food Agency enlisted the help of over 5500 pupils, who acted as research assistants for a day. Carrots and apples top the list of most eaten vegetables and fruit.

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| Vetenskap & Allmänhet

Swedish children to help climate scientists by burying tea bags

Press release 9 February 2015.

Is it possible to read the future in tea leaves? This is what scientists at Umeå University are hoping to find out and they are now looking for school classes across Sweden to participate in a mass experiment that will help to inform climate change research. The so-called ‘Tea Bag Experiment’ is part of the European science festival, Researchers’ Night.

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| Vetenskap & Allmänhet

Swedish researchers seek pupils to help map eating habits

Press Release 13 May 2014

How much fruit and vegetables do children and teenagers consume in Sweden? The Swedish National Food Agency is looking for investigative pupils who want to be research assistants for a day. This mass experiment is part of the science festival, Researchers’ Night.

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| Vetenskap & Allmänhet

10,000 pupils assist Swedish scientists with climate research

Press release 11 April 2014.

Spring is now here and it arrives earlier each year.  A warmer climate means an earlier spring and a later autumn. But how is the delayed onset of autumn affecting the Swedish ecosystem? A mass experiment involving over 10,000 pupils across Sweden is helping scientists to study the effect of climate change on deciduous trees in autumn.

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| Vetenskap & Allmänhet

Children to help researchers map climate change

Press release 20 May 2013

Is climate change leading to a delay in when leaves turn colour in the autumn? Pupils from across Sweden will be helping researchers determine how the climate is affecting the growing season of plants and the onset of autumn. This mass experiment is part of the science festival Researchers’ Night.

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