X-Polli:Nation: Contributing towards sustainable development goals through school-based pollinator citizen science

Lakeman Fraser, Poppy; Colluci-Gray, Laura; Robinson, Annie; Sforzi, Andrea; Staples-Rolf, Ruth; Newman, Julie; Gill, Richard; Sharma, Nirwan; Rüger, Stefan and Siddharthan, Advaith (2023). X-Polli:Nation: Contributing towards sustainable development goals through school-based pollinator citizen science. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, 8(1), article no. 48.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/cstp.567


As the Citizen Science (CS) community flourishes, there is an opportunity to reflect on how practitioners can widen participation and work with participants as co-researchers to investigate and take action around global challenges. Through the lens of one CS case study, the X-Polli:Nation project, we report on how technologists, ecologists and education specialists repurposed older projects by cross-pollinating ideas with children and teachers in the UK and in Italy to create Artificial Intelligence enhanced tools appropriate for teaching sustainability in schools. Taking part in an actionable CS cycle, children learn about pollinating insects, record scientific data, create flowering habitats and communicate their importance. Through this process, X-Polli:Nation demonstrates relevance across a number of Sustainable Development Goals (e.g. SDG 4 Quality Education, 10 Reducing Inequality and 15 Life on Land), and applies the underlying SDG principle ‘leave no one behind’. We go on to investigate if, and how, young people would like to deepen their engagement with the SDGs, reporting that taking action and communicating the importance of the goals were of paramount interest. The challenge of building sustainability into an already crowded curriculum can be alleviated by understanding its value, considering the audience and adapting to new contexts. The considerable benefits include raising awareness about global sustainability issues and giving children the confidence to become passionate environmental stewards, all the while extending the life of older projects and thus making CS methods sustainable too.

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