Appearing in the most recent issue of Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, “What Do We Know About Young Volunteers? An Exploratory Study of Participation in Zooniverse” examines how youth, mainly 16–19 years old, participate in online citizen science projects. The co-authors include Heidi Ballard, the Center’s Faculty Director, and other colleagues collaborating on the LEARN CitSci project, funded jointly by the National Science Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.
The researchers used data analytics and visualization techniques to study the following questions:
- What does young people’s participation look like in CS projects?
- What Zooniverse projects do young people choose to participate in?
- What Zooniverse projects do young people choose together?
Studying participant’s experience can improve the design of future online CS projects and generate new engagement strategies that can invite more diverse participants in online CS. However, all the previous findings focus on adults or do not distinguish age group. The field is lacking the understanding of youth participation in online CS programs.
This article is the first citizen science study that focuses on youth’s experience in online CS projects. The article addresses which projects tend to be most attractive and show that youth participants typically fit into one of five distinct engagement profiles. To learn more about implications for designing online citizen science projects with youth in mind, find the full article here.