Despite school grounds containing green spaces that are important for young people’s health, wellbeing and environmental engagement, citizen-science approaches have not yet been widely developed for these spaces. Building on methods our team have previously pioneered, this pilot project trialled citizen-science methods designed specifically for school grounds. The project was based at a local secondary school and at the University Museum of Zoology Cambridge’s (UMZC) Zoology Club.
Methods included rapid biodiversity assessments of school grounds to address questions related to the environmental questions, social-science methods to quantify the value of green spaces for students’ nature connection and wellbeing, and opportunities for students to design and carry out their own ecology science project, with support from UMZC and University Herbarium staff. All students involved in the project received a 40-page booklet, produced specifically for this programme, containing educational resources to help them engage fully with the programme and social science questionnaires. These questionnaires were approved for data collection by the University Psychology Ethics Committee and were designed to measure students’ nature connection, future education and career aspirations, and wellbeing across the whole programme.
Students presented their work in September 2022 at a school conference hosted at UMZC, developed specifically for this project, and several students submitted their projects for a CREST Award. This project afforded students the opportunity to co-design their own studies, develop research and presentation skills, and explore pathways to higher education and careers in collections and ecology, supporting participatory research from conception to outcomes.