Using Citizen Science to Conduct Microfiber Pollution Research Within the Salt Creek Watershed
Arts and Sciences
Citizen Science involves volunteers and scientists who collaborate to provide research to the scientific community while keeping the data accessible to the general public. Research on microfiber pollution in the Salt Creek watershed used students and teachers from Portage Willowcreek Middle School to serve as Citizen Scientists in order to increase environmental awareness and gather a larger data set. Curriculum was created to fit within eighth grade honors standards and was taught to three eighth grade honors classes. Before the data collection, students were introduced to the significant, worldwide plastic pollution problem, the importance of research, and the structure of scientific methodology. On data collection days, the students were accompanied by undergraduate research students and professors from Valparaiso University at Imagination Glen Park in Portage, Indiana to take samples and collect watershed data. The research team processed the samples and provided the students with pictures of the processed samples. Instruction was provided to the students on how to visualize, quantify, and interpret the results. Students were then challenged to create a controlled experiment involving microfibers and macroinvertebrates. Overall, students reported a transformation in their views of plastic pollution and their interest to create change. Through this project, it is suggested that by using citizen science within a classroom, teachers and scientists can both benefit. Many projects can be used cross-curricular, increasing student understanding on a number of science topics. Scientists can benefit by having new perspectives on a project as well as increasing awareness of current research.
Smith, Ashley; Kubalewski, Maria; Montgomery, Emma; Huff, Allen; Kostelnik, Eddie; Peller, Julie; Eberhardt, Laurie; Iceman, Christopher; and Clark, Robert, "Using Citizen Science to Conduct Microfiber Pollution Research Within the Salt Creek Watershed" (2018). Summer Interdisciplinary Research Symposium. 33.