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HOMEs under the microscope: Final evaluation report

Sardo, Margarida

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Abstract

HOMES was a citizen science project which aimed at investigating the presence of airborne microplastics in people's homes. The project took place in two stages, Phase 1 was the Pilot in Bristol and Phase 2, the roll out in Bristol and Bradford. Citizens placed passive samplers in their homes, using low-cost microscopes to see and take pictures of their samples. They then used machine vision approaches to characterise their own samples by size/shape/colour etc, at home. The research team undertook confirmatory analyses allowing citizens to see what types of plastic (if any) were present in their samples, which helped the team build an understanding of airborne microplastic generation at home.
Across the pilot and the roll out, the project engaged directly with 145 citizen scientists, mostly white, highly educated women. The HOMEs team made a considerable effort in targeting underrepresented groups (by working with the Bristol Green Capital Partnership, attending specific events, etc.) but despite all the efforts, this was the end-sample in terms of demographics. The main motivation to take part was to contribute to research, as reported by the participants. There was an overwhelmingly high level of enjoyment reported by the participants. Overall, citizens taking part have seen an improvement in their knowledge with the biggest increase of knowledge in airborne microplastic knowledge.
The project team was made of mostly researchers with little or no experience of citizen science projects. By the end of the project, most team members had gained new skills (such as managing people, improved communication skills and increased knowledge of citizen participation) and were able to identify what worked well (e.g., co-creative element and easy topic to engage citizens with) and what didn’t work so well (limited time to analyse samples writing instructions for citizens). Overall, the team reported high levels of enjoyment of the project.
We hope this evaluation report proves useful to other researchers, practitioners and citizen scientists working on citizen science projects.

Citation

Sardo, M. (2023). HOMEs under the microscope: Final evaluation report. UKRI

Report Type Project Report
Online Publication Date Jul 10, 2023
Publication Date Jul 6, 2023
Deposit Date Jul 10, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jul 11, 2023
Keywords evaluation, citizen science, microplastics, airborne microplastics, participatory research
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/10925515

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