Citizen engagement in scientific research is a hot topic among academics at the Universidad de Cuenca in Cuenca, Ecuador. FWCE Educator Andrea Lorek Strauss fanned the flame with a presentation about the Driven to Discover (D2D) project on a recent visit there.
Conservation biologists, anthropologists and geographers recently participated in a three-day seminar on Citizen Science and the potential for involving communities in gathering data relevant to their lives, including crowdsourcing of traffic patterns to aid biking and public transportation usage. Strauss, on a personal visit to the country last week, connected with University scholars in civic engagement and offered to share her expertise in training volunteers to engage youth in contributing citizen science data and pursuing independent scientific investigations.
The research and evaluations on from the D2D project provided useful insight for the discussion. Science education in Ecuador is heavily lecture based at all levels, from primary school through University, and rarely includes lab or field experiences. The D2D curriculum guides and teaching tools provide innovative approaches for hands-on, learner directed learning experiences.