Suggestions for Readings for Cit-Sci (in schools)

Links and resources for Innovation and Citizen Science projects with a schools focus, extracted from posts to the Cit-Sci Discussion list, by Nancy Trautmann <nancy.trautmann> and Mary Ellen Hannibal <maryellenhannibal>.

This book is designed for teachers: Citizen Science: 15 Lessons That Bring Biology to Life provides several case studies + 15 lesson plans representing a large range of citizen science projects and ways of integrating into science teaching.

The book Citizen Scientist by Mary Ellen Hannibal, as well as Caren Cooper’s book Citizen Science for big-picture narratives focusing on individual projects but also connecting them to the larger, contextual vision. Both books provide a way to integrate “science” into the broader humanities, including history and literature.

Look at the readings for a single lecture/ workshop for in-service teachers or MAT graduate students and the  California Academy’s Citizen Science Toolkit for educators. 

Also, Dunn, R. and H. Menninger. (2016) “Teaching Students to How to Discover the Unknown,” in D. Cavalier and E. B. Kennedy (Eds), The Rightful Place of Citizen Science. Tempe, AZ.

The four episodes of the PBS program The Crowd and the Cloud, which are free online, are superb and comprehensive.

Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction; “One of the best books of 2016,” review in the San Francisco Chronicle; recipient of the Nautilus Book Award

Stanford TEDx talk

A Different Sort of Innovation Award

Note that one of the “semi-finalists” for the the Unilever Global Development Award Supported by Business Fights Poverty is the What3Words, and one of the basic prominent users of the What3Words technology is the island of St. Martin. This would be a natural for a NatureTech.Solutions award.

Go to to learn more about the Unilever Global Development Award.

Summary of Nature.Tech Application Process: 2017


  • Applications for the 2017 award are due September 1, 2017.
  • The first annual US$ 3,000 NatureTech.Solutions award will be presented to a resident of an Eastern Caribbean island on or about 1 October 2017.
  • The award is for an open-source innovation that improves the management of natural or cultural resources in a small island [or islands] of the Eastern Caribbean. Applications (e-mail preferred) are due to

Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI),
PO Box 11790,
St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands 00801,

by close-of-business,  1 September 2017.

  • The award will be made by CFVI on behalf of the Potter Fund for NatureTech.Solutions] as part of the legacy of Island Resources Foundation, which provided technical assistance to conservation activities and organizations in small islands while based in the US Virgin Islands from 1971 to 2016.
  • For details about the application process, go to http://NatureTech.Solutions, sign up with the NatureTech e-mail list by writing to, or write to

Detailed Guidelines:

The NatureTech.Solutions award is for a technology (a reproducible application of knowledge for practical purposes) that can be used by private or public decision-makers in small islands of the Caribbean to make better decisions about the management of natural or cultural resources. An assumption is that this technology would be information-based, but there are many ancillary potential applications such as self-contained training modules, front-ends for existing resource databases, visualizations of existing data, and so forth.

Deadline for applications for the first NatureTech.Solutions award is Friday, September 1st, 2017. Unless otherwise agreed to by the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, applications must be submitted in electronic form through the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, at, with “[NatureTech]” in the subject line.

Application Requirements:

  • Small Island — The award application must be submitted by an individual or organization resident or based in a small island of the wider Caribbean region:
    • Smaller than 10,000 square kilometers and less than 1 million inhabitants;
    • Political status not relevant.
  • Instructions — The submission must be in English or Spanish, and must include instructions that would enable a potential user to actually apply the technology.
  • Open Source — The submission must include an operational version of the technology that is in the public domain — that is, it can be used and adapted by any potential user.
  • Electronic Submission — May be in a document format, or multi-media, or an operating application for standard operating systems, such as Mac OS, Windows, iOS or Android.
  • Due Date: — The Application should be emailed to the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands at with [NatureTech] in the Subject line of the message, before close of business, 1 September 2017.

Elements of the Application:

Application Process — Applications, not to exceed four single-spaced typed pages, should include the following information:

  • The Name of the Innovation being proposed for the award (e.g., “Property Record Ownership Method — PROM Barbuda”)
  • Applicant Name, address, telephone number, email address (and point-of-contact if the application is an organization).
  • A brief history of the innovation, highlighting the resource management need addressed by the innovation, and the applicant’s involvement in addressing that need.
  • Description of who has been using the innovation for how long or how many iterations, what are the specific products from the innovation, and the resource management advantages from using the innovation.
  • Current status of the innovation, including planned modifications or extensions, and adaptations for other places or organizations.
  • Names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of three people familiar with the innovation who can be contacted for additional information about the operation and effects of the innovation.

Supporting documentation in the form of access procedures or instructions or software implementing the innovation may be submitted, but should not exceed the equivalent of an additional ten (10) pages.  Contact CFVI if specialized support systems are required.


As in real life, virtues are not mandatory, but they are likely to have a positive effect on the decision of the Advisory Committee:

  • Engagement with local organizations and agencies (and note that local agencies and non-profit/non-governmental organizations can be applicants themselves).
  • User endorsements
  • Clarity
  • Brevity



Youth Mappers Unite . . . .

Youth Mappers Unite for a Good Cause

By Carla Wheeler, ArcWatch Editor

This article as a PDF.

Youth Mappers in a chapter at Khulna University digitize field notes onto the map. They collaborated with two other chapters in the United States on this project. Photo/Chad Blevins

Youth Mappers in a chapter at Khulna University digitize field notes onto the map. They collaborated with two other chapters in the United States on this project. Photo/Chad Blevins

[Youth Mappers is a movement that is galvanizing university students to change the world for the better by mapping it. The fledgling network of university-based mapping chapters is creating maps that will help United States Agency for International Development (USAID) projects that focus on increasing food security; preventing diseases such as malaria; and responding to natural disasters in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean.]

Youth Mappers project director Patricia Solis at Texas Tech University calls it the Geospatial Revolution 2.0. “It’s more than a technical revolution—it’s something of a social revolution too,” said Solis. She described how students often pitch in and work on volunteered geographic information (VGI) projects aimed at helping developing countries respond to natural disasters or fight problems such as poverty, disease, and hunger. In the process, they learn about other places in the world and get the opportunity to connect to students from these areas.

Last year, a chapter at Khulna University in Bangladesh and chapters in the United States at George Washington University and Texas Tech University collaborated to make a basemap of a rural community near Khulna, Bangladesh, where the US government’s Feed the Future initiative operates. Once the basemap was finished, the Bangladeshi students visited the area to collect detailed information such as the locations of bodies of water where high-protein fish and prawns are farmed. As part of efforts to improve food security, the map will help USAID better understand who has access to enough nutritious food to live healthy lives.

George Washington University students worked on the same rural area near Khulna, Bangladesh. The map will be used to support the US government's Feed the Future initiative there. Photo/Heather BlevinsGeorge Washington University students worked on the same rural area near Khulna, Bangladesh. The map will be used to support the US government’s Feed the Future initiative there. Photo/Heather Blevins


Students in developing countries know their communities and the land surrounding them well. They can add important information and a local perspective to maps, according to Carrie Stokes, director of GeoCenter, a USAID resource for expanding and institutionalizing the use of geospatial tools and analysis. (See “Mapping a Better World” on this page.)

“Many people in poverty feel they don’t have a voice in their own governance,” she said. “Give them a skill to define their world by mapping it [and] they feel empowered.”

Youth Mappers was formed under the auspices of the new Mapping for Resilience University Consortium. Julia Kleine, the Youth Mappers chapter president at Texas Tech University, said the group has great potential to help people in developing nations because of its international inclusiveness. “Youth Mappers gives people the opportunity to collaborate with students and youth from all over the world, ultimately creating a strong network of leaders in developed and developing nations that can face world issues together and be equipped with the tools to do so,” she said.

Most of the students who are drawn to Youth Mappers are those who have a drive for change and desire to give back to the world, said Kleine. This includes members who are international students from developing nations who are studying in the United States. Their reasons for getting involved are personal. They have experienced firsthand the struggles in the developing world and the lack of access to geographic data.

“If you can visualize the problems and visualize the solutions [with maps], that can bring us together to address development issues,” said Solis, who is also a research associate professor of geography at Texas Tech University.

Universities in the United States and in countries where USAID works are welcome to join the consortium. Students worldwide can participate in Youth Mappers chapters, mapathons, and research fellowships to create geospatial data for USAID projects in parts of the world where few maps exist. USAID awarded a $1 million grant in 2015 to the consortium.

An OpenStreetMap basemap of a rural area of Khulna District in Bangladesh before detailed information was captured by local students. © OpenStreetMap contributors.
An OpenStreetMap basemap of a rural area of Khulna District in Bangladesh before detailed information was captured by local students. © OpenStreetMap contributors.

The same map after Khulna University students spent two days walking through this rural area of the Khulna District and added detailed information such as building types, the names of roads, and the location of fish ponds. © OpenStreetMap contributors
The same map after Khulna University students spent two days walking through this rural area of the Khulna District and added detailed information such as building types, the names of roads, and the location of fish ponds. © OpenStreetMap contributors

The GeoCenter works with the consortium’s founding members, Texas Tech University, George Washington University, and West Virginia University, to build what Stokes calls a “virtual partnership” between students in the United States and students in developing countries. The cadre of international student mappers will then collaborate on making maps using OpenStreetMap (OSM).

Students use high-resolution satellite imagery to map features such as roads, bodies of water, houses, and schools. Using OSM tools such as Field Papers or OpenMapKit, students who live in or near the cities or villages being mapped will go into the field to collect more detailed information to add to the maps, such as road names, the number of students at area schools, or the types of building materials used in houses. The information created by these projects is made available through OSM.

Texas Tech, George Washington University, and West Virginia University chapters have hosted several mapathons to build maps requested by USAID. The events, which offer free pizza and training, attract a diverse crowd that includes students from outside the GIS and geography realms.

Chad Blevins from the USAID GeoCenter traveled to Bangladesh, where he provided instruction to Khulna University students as they prepared for a day of field mapping. 
Photo/Michael CrinoChad Blevins from the USAID GeoCenter traveled to Bangladesh, where he provided instruction to Khulna University students as they prepared for a day of field mapping. Photo/Michael Crino

In November 2015, these three chapters held a lively mapathon to create a basemap of the African seaport city of Quelimane, Mozambique. Using high-resolution imagery from USAID, the students competed to see which school could map the most features, including houses and roads. An estimated 26,000 buildings and more than 1,000 roads were put into OSM during that mapping effort. The map, now populated with roads and houses, will be used to plan an anti-malaria campaign there. It will help malaria prevention workers plan where and how much insecticide to spray. “If you short-change yourself by not having enough insecticide,” said Stokes, “it affects the efficacy of the entire effort.”

Stokes points to a successful collaboration in 2013 between students at George Washington University and students from Kathmandu Living Labs. The GeoCenter and the World Bank’s Disaster Risk Reduction team mapped the city of Kathmandu in earthquake-prone Nepal.

George Washington University used satellite imagery to trace roads, buildings, and other infrastructure. The map features were subsequently validated on the ground by Kathmandu Living Labs students who collected attribute data for those features.

Texas Tech University's Youth Mappers chapter president Julia Kleine helped create a map of the city of Quelimane, Mozambique.Texas Tech University’s Youth Mappers chapter president Julia Kleine helped create a map of the city of Quelimane, Mozambique.


When a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal in April 2015, the George Washington University students enhanced the Nepal map on OSM, Stokes said. The GeoCenter downloaded the new map data onto GPS units that American search-and-rescue teams took to Kathmandu.

“It’s not just about tech. It’s really about making a difference in the world,” said Solis, who witnesses the enthusiasm among the students for these projects. “People care about people around the world when they know something about them,” she said.

And do they have fun? “We are talking about a gaming culture,” said Solis. “[Students] are motivated. They love the challenge of doing this. But most importantly, the learning potential for making real connections to other places and other students is profound. Youth Mappers not only builds maps, we also build mappers.”

Stokes knows that, in the years ahead, the work the GeoCenter does with the consortium to train and mentor the young mappers will be critically important. “We are not only creating the next generation of maps for USAID, but the next generation of mappers for the world,” she said.

For more information about the Mapping for Resilience University Consortium, contact Get more information about the Youth Mappers chapters.

A Chinese flagship Citizen Science/Crowdsourcing Initiative

[The Woodrow Wilson Center in the District of Columbia has a special program on Citizen Science initiatives (sign-up information at the bottom of this post). This message from the Center’s Elizabeth Tyson highlights a Chinese water quality monitoring program which has several elements that might be adapted for someplace in the insular Caribbean, and which could be considered for a NatureTech award.]

Hi All –

For those of you following the development of citizen science and crowdsourcing in the People’s Republic of China, here is a succinct update on theInstitute for Public and Environmental Affairs flagship citizen science river monitoring initiative, “Foul and Filthy Rivers.” The unique program leverages a mobile application (Blue Map) for citizens to report “odorous or filthy areas” of rivers. What happens next is quite unique in the citizen science and policy realm in that the information reported goes straight to the municipal environmental protection agency and they have 7 days to investigate and close the claim. After 7 days the report becomes public.

The following is an update on the initial metrics of the program. These were compiled and provided to me by Kate Logan, an employee of IPE. For further information you can follow the hyperlink to WeChat (social media application in China) and use google translate to get further information.

“August 9: How much progress has “black and smelly” rivers made? Organizations begin citizen surveys

    • Introduces the background of the government’s project and the coalition of environmetnal NGOs that are working to publicly supervise the initiative, inviting more volunteers and NGOs to join in their efforts
    • Guizhou is the only province where the number of �扈㈻� have actually decreased
    • Urges government to be more proactive in releasing results of cleanup efforts, and citizens to be active in supervising

August 10: Black and Smelly Rivers Investigation: Beijing, Jiangsu, and Fujian NGOs Get Started

    • Results of local NGO investigations in Beijing, Jiangsu and Fujian

August 12: Black and Smelly Rivers Investigation: Shandong, Henan, Hubei, Hunan and Guangdong NGOs Get Started

    • Results of local NGO investigations in Shandong, Henan, Hubei, Hunan and Guangdong

August 16: The Blue Map’s “Black and Smelly River Reporting Version” Goes Live! A New Way of Supervising Black and Smelly Rivers!

    • Infographic on how to use the Blue Map app to report
    • Can also now use the Blue Map app to see where reports have been made
    • Already 50 individual reports have been officially accepted

August 17: Black and Smelly Rivers Investigation: I’ve Reported a Black and Smelly River, Will I Get a Response?

    • Of 1846 reports from February 18 through the end of July, 1727 had been “resolved,” a rate of 94%
    • The highest number of reports came from Beijing (576), followed by Hunan (302), Guangdong (164) and Shandong (137)
    • A handful of provinces did not respond within the deadline of 7 days, with Liaoning not having a single instance of responding on time any of the ten complaints raised. Conversely, Beijing had a 100% rate of responding on time.
    • Complaints peaked on March 14 to 20, coinciding with World Water Day
    • The potential effect of grassroots NGOs can be seen in that there were a high number of reports in provinces with high environmental NGO activity — and in particular Hunan, where the number of waters designated for cleanup is relatively high, likely due to the active work of citizen reports. However, there are still some provinces with a discrepancy between the high number of reports and low number of waters designated for cleanup, which must be further examined and addressed”

Cheers and Happy Summer,

Elizabeth Tyson
CoDirector, Commons Lab, Wilson Center

Message via CitSci-discussion-L@cornell.eduthe discussion-based listserv for the community supporting citizen science, volunteer monitoring, and other forms of public participation in scientific research.

To subscribe or unsubscribe, visit
With questions about this listserv, email us at

Markets for Good Launches Good Data Grants


July 27, 2016

Erin Fogg 831-515-6403

Markets for Good Launches Good Data Grants for a Higher Impact Social Sector

New grants program from Stanford PACS will fund research and innovation to help the social sector use data safely, ethically, and effectively to improve its work.

STANFORD, CA – Markets for Good (MFG), an initiative of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (Stanford PACS), announced today that it is launching a new national grant opportunity, Good Data Grants.

With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Good Data Grants program will focus on the role of digital data and infrastructure to improve decision-making in philanthropy (particularly individual giving) and in the social sector writ large.

Grants will be awarded for two types of projects: scholarly research and practical innovations. The program aims to support research, prototypes, and shared learning that can help donors and social sector organizations use digital data safely, ethically, and effectively to improve their work.

Lucy Bernholz, Senior Research Scholar at Stanford PACS and Director of its Digital Civil Society Lab, said of the new program: “We’re excited to support new ideas and innovations that will help nonprofits and donors boost their impact through the responsible and effective use of digital data. We’ll draw on the resources and expertise of the MFG and Digital Civil Society Lab communities to support grantees and help them share their work for the benefit of the entire social sector.”

The launch of the Good Data Grants program marks the first year of a planned three-year grants program. For its first year, Markets for Good will select 5 to 15 grantees to receive funding from a pool of $200,000. The deadline for proposals is September 30, 2016, and grants will be announced and awarded in November 2016.

Markets for Good will host three live webinars to discuss the grants program in detail and respond to questions from potential applicants (click below to RSVP):

Grantees will be invited to the Do Good Data conference at Stanford in February 2017 and will present the outcomes of their work to the MFG community in the fall of 2017.

Good Data Grants are intended to support researchers and innovators in developing new learning and tools that the entire social sector can use to improve the safe, ethical, and effective use of data in the digital age. All work supported by Good Data grants will be publicly shared and geared toward improving practice in the field.

To learn more, view the full Request for Proposal.

For more information, please visit


Markets for Good (MFG) improves the data infrastructure for social good. We share ideas and support innovation to advance the safe, ethical, and effective use of digital data for a higher impact social sector. MFG facilitates the online exchange of expert and practical data-related knowledge through a robust online community, and we foster innovation and original research with grants and mentorship. We also host in-person events that foster knowledge sharing and ideation for the community, as well as cross-sector information sharing between public and private sector partners, and research on emerging relevant issues.

To learn more or schedule interviews, contact Erin Fogg at 831-515-6403 or visit

The Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (Stanford PACS) is a research center where scholars, practitioners, and leaders come together to explore ideas for social change. Stanford PACS publishes the preeminent Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR). This interdisciplinary center works with 5 schools, 20 departments, and 100 faculty affiliates to catalyze innovative research and explore new ideas to improve philanthropy and strengthen civil society.

To learn more or schedule interviews, contact Erin Fogg at 831-515-6403 or visit

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