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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

14 - Public Participation and Community (Citizen) Science


About 10 million people in the United States, or 5 percent of the working population, are employed in some aspect of STEM (Noonan, 2017). This number leaves more than a quarter of a billion other people in the United States who could potentially become engaged in the practice of science sometime during their lifetime. While it is unrealistic to expect full participation from the general public, any effort that increases engagement and broadens participation also promotes learning by doing, and thus science literacy. Public participation can also increase science identity for those who participate in the research enterprise. The general notion that STEM is primarily done by professionals – those who are paid to do so as their career – neglects the fact that few scientists were professionals two centuries ago.