Beepath: Citizen science in the classroom
Beepath is an interdisciplinary project that aims to introduce citizen science into the schools of Barcelona and its Metropolitan Area. This is an activity concerning mobility and geolocalisation, aimed at 3rd and 4th year secondary school (ESO) teachers and students. It is based on three interrelated principles: education, science and technology.
The project offers a very different focus to the traditional method of transmitting knowledge: with the support of a team of university lecturers, experts in data analysis and educational professionals, the pupils and teachers co-designed their own scientific project which was adapted to the specific features and surroundings of each centre.
The participants were involved in all the stages of real scientific research on city-resident mobility, from its conceptualisation to the analysis and interpretation of the data. The data was acquired by means of a mobile application that registers the user's geolocalisation.
The pupils of each centre analysed the obtained data and made an infographic that summarised the main results, their conclusions and their proposals for specific action to improve their surroundings. These infographics were handed to Anna Majó, Barcelona City Council's technical director for digital innovation, in a final ceremony where pupils representing their centres explained their work.
The project was created with the clear intention of making science more available to society, based on very local challenges and concerns for the participants, while showing the potential of citizen science as an educational and scientific research tool. The project seeks to provide prestige for an example of social innovation based on data and evidence that has been validated by scientific rigour. The project also aims to provide resources for obtaining information about the participants’ immediate surroundings so that they can detect problems and design possible solutions by exercising dynamic democracy. As future citizens, the pupils must be properly educated as technological stakeholders, and they must also be prepared to face the digital transformation required by society's productive network.
In this sense, the results of the surveys carried out during the project speak for themselves: almost 90% of the teachers believe that the activity has had a quite or very positive influence on their pupils, while 70% agree that it has helped their pupils to develop a scientific attitude. The teachers unanimously believe that it would be a positive thing if their centres were always linked to a research project, and that it is possible to generate similar questions and projects and for everyone to be able to do citizen science. Around 94% of teachers believe that the resources and planning involved were at least adequate; 76% believe that the planning was either very good or excellent.
Beepath is a partnership involving three organisations with extensive experience in their own fields: OpenSystems-UB, Eduscopi and Dribia, and is a founder member of Barcelona's Citizen Science Office, an initiative promoted by the Barcelona Institute of Culture.