international online community for dna barcoding professionals

The purpose of this Discussion is to provide a place for online exchange that we can use during the conference to discuss the Education and Engagement session scheduled for Friday afternoon at 14:00.

For information about the session itself, see the session agenda and my blog post about the session.

To "engage on education in Adelaide", post your comments and questions to this discussion thread using "Reply to this" below. You can also engage with me and others on Twitter; I am @kejames and the conference hashtag is #bol4.

Here are some prompts to get things started:

  • What questions or topics would you like addressed during the panel discussion in the second half of the session?
  • What are some of the opportunities and challenges presented by combining DNA barcoding and education/outreach?
  • What is the future of DNA barcoding specifically as it relates to education and outreach?
  • Any other questions, comments and suggestions welcome!


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Hey Karen- Since we are at this conference, it would be interesting to find out about the willingness of the scientific barcoding community to work with students or citizen scientists and what sorts of commitments they could make. On discussion with some participants I have realized there are varying levels of support that could be given and many barcoding scientists are up to their eyes already and may see collaborations with the public as "another" thing on their plate, rather than an opportunity to help justify their funding and train future scientists. For example a curator could be really active, actually mentor educators or cirtizens, or they could receive and store vouchered samples collected by citizen scientists, or at a minimal level they could just mail out specimen tissue/cultured samples, much as they do for other users of their collections (obviously this depends on the types of collections).

It would therefore be helpful to define what types of support might be useful to the outreach/education campaign to help scientists/curators decide what they could contribute and to define what the expectations of the educators or citizen scientists might be.

Just a thought

And I am looking forward to meeting you tomorrow

Hi Bryony, Thanks for this suggestion. In my talk I am going to try and review some of the many different ways that people fit education into their projects, but as you point out it would also be good to discuss the real and perceived barriers to incorporating education and outreach activity into a barcoding project, as well as the different sorts of benefits and outcomes. I'll add these to my list of panel discussion questions. As for support for education/outreach activities, and matching and managing expectations, perhaps a citizen science "matchmaking" service like SciStarter could help with this.

I hadn't heard of scistarter, but it looks cool from the link, but I fear will only attract those scientists actively looking to mentor and in my experience they are few and far between and the barcoding community is small. Most scientists need hand holding through the process of helping educators (because they perceive so many barriers- real and imaginary) which needs people with time and funding to do the hand holding- university student education partnerships may be an avenue to pursue, or maybe it needs some funding to actively make it happen (which then needs someone to write the grant). Its not an easy issue and people have been dealing with this for a long time and I haven't seen a fix-all solution yet. But I think this community may have more hope than many projects because of the drive of the people in the there may be a way to get beyond lip service and to actual active participation. Also CMB's eBOL web resource plans may help in this endeavour to highlight barcoding teams/projects who are interested in partnering with educators/citizen scientists.

Perhaps during the discussion we can ask audience members who aren't already involved with education what it is they feel is stopping them. A straw poll of sorts. I look forward to hearing more about eBOL.



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