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Science  06 May 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6030, pp. 641
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6030.641-c

The recent explosion of citizen science activities has been accompanied by informal science education efforts aimed at fostering partnerships between students, academics, and industrial scientists. Gebbels et al. brought students and employees from Merck, Sharp and Dohme (MSD) together to participate in an environmental management project in coastal northeast England. Students, ages 13 to 14, spent a day in the field surveying flora of sand dunes and the rocky shore, small mammals, birds, and invertebrates and presented their findings to MSD employees. Students reported a rich and varied ecosystem but noted that an abundance of an invasive ragwort plant in the dunes was a cause for concern. Students also noted the effects of human impact, specifically the number of access points and the resulting paths where vegetation had been destroyed. MSD employees took seriously the management recommendations made by the students and, along with student assistance, brought one to fruition (reconstruction of a bird hide). All participants claimed that involvement in the project increased their awareness of environmental issues and motivated them to become involved in further conservation projects. As an additional incentive for other industrial firms looking to embark on similar education projects, students reported a more positive outlook on the ways in which companies act as environmental stewards.

J. Biol. Educ. 45, 13 (2011).

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