Can technology empower the public to think scientifically? The case of nQuire

Herodotou, Christothea; Sharples, Mike and Scanlon, Eileen (2020). Can technology empower the public to think scientifically? The case of nQuire. In: International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2020), 19-23 Jun 2020, Nashville, TN, USA.



nQuire ( is an innovative citizen science (CS) platform for learning, developed at the Open University UK in collaboration with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). It operationalizes the concept of ‘citizen inquiry’, that is the fusion of citizen science and inquiry-based learning. It enables members of the public to join or set up
their own investigations or ‘missions’ to explore themselves and their environment. Each mission involves finding out about how CS works at scale and gaining insight into current issues such as personal wellbeing. An example of an nQuire mission is Gardenwatch; this is a survey of UK private gardens, produced by BBC Springwatch and the British Trust for Ornithology. Over 200,000 people completed surveys of their gardens on nQuire, as well as sharing their
findings on social media. We are now researching how to capture and improve the impact of nQuire on citizens’ learning and engagement. Our vision is to educate the general public in thinking scientifically through engagement with nQuire missions.

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