Citizen Science is when the public voluntarily help conduct scientific research, and share results to organisations and the public. It's also a great way to get the youth engaged with the local community and the environment!
JESSICA stands for Junior Environmental Science Student Information and Collaboration App, and it is both a tool and a community to encourage in the participation of Citizen Science, engaging students with their local community and environmental organisations.
For example, schools and organisations can host activities in JESSICA such as:
- being weed warriors in NT, to learn about, and help in, the fight against Gamba Grass
- contribute to koala research in QLD
- finding and identifying rare species, such as the jewel beetle, in ACT
- study water quality and its effect on flora and fauna in Gippsland Lakes
By reading and posting content/media in JESSICA, they also get to practice valuable work skills such as research, observation, analysis, communication, and presentation skills. They also get to interact with the local environment industry and its professionals, and maybe encourage them to pursue a STEM career!
JESSICA, through its Geo Data Index, aggregates vast scientific data available in various repositories and transforms them into a standard format, making them accessible to the general public, by presenting relevant local data in close proximity.
For this project, we used Scratch as a prototyping tool. It is used by primary school kids to create interactive stories, animation, and games. For this hack, we used Scratch as a prototyping tool to conduct tests.
There are vast amounts of scientific data that are open and available for use. The challenge has always been how to encourage the use of this data not just by the scientific community and professionals/experts, but also by the general public (who normally don't have data science skills).
The key to addressing this is to create an index that serves as a bridge between vast scientific data (such as the data sets we have linked to this hack) and the general public. Just like the Google Search index, entries in JESSICA Geo Data Index reference external data sources. Its records are in a standard format: geolocation, category (or tag), datasource name, and external ID.
JESSICA is location-based, and content that is viewed/posted (with geolocation) will also be presented with relevant local data (using similar tags) in close proximity.