Friday, August 26, 2011

How to get involved in science

The lack of science education in the broader community is often considered to be one of the main reasons why people don't believe or trust in matters such as climate change, the level of impact humans are having on habitat and many of the other environmental issues we are currently facing.

I personally think that many people feel unconnected with the scientific process and the research that is being undertaken. But this can change. You can become involved in or participate in research that will directly feed into the scientific literature. This information is then used to drive government policy on matters such as climate change, water quality, vegetation clearing and many environmental issues.

Over the last twenty years or so there has been a proliferation of science education programs in schools aimed at getting kids to participate in environmental management type science, such as the rehabilitation of creeks, water quality monitoring, noise monitoring to name a few. But science participation doesn't have to be restricted to the schools or your children.  There are many places and opportunities for you (as a young adult or adult) to participate in such things.

If you are truly interested and have some time to volunteer you could contact your local University. Seek out the department where your interests lie, and find out whether there are any Honours, Masters or PhD students looking for volunteers. For example, one of my passion lies with animals, so I would seek out their Department of Zoology or Environment (or something along those lines) and then just make contact with the general number on their website. Alternatively you could go even further and look into their academic and research staff and see what projects they currently have on and make contact to see whether there is any assistance you can provide.

Other ways to participate could be through community groups and government run research programs. There are always groups researching all manner of things and there is likely to be one or two looking into things that are of interest to you. Just do a web search for your interests and add to your search parameters something along the lines of 'research', 'community group', 'volunteer', 'data collection', etc, etc.  Alternatively, if you're lucky enough to have lots of money and looking for a holiday, which could make a difference, there are groups such as Earthwatch that collaborate with researchers and invite community members to be involved in the research (on a payment basis).

So if you're keen and have some time and want to know more about the science behind your interests why not give it a go and become actively involved. Pin It

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