Guest Lecture – Dr. Rob Phillips

On Thursday (16/02/17) we had Dr. Rob Phillips in to give us a guest lecture and go deeper into exploring our topic. What was particularly interesting is Rob is already involved with environmental projects through citizen science and proved to be extremely helpful having his comments.

Citizen Science is the practice of enabling praticipants outside of the professional scientificf field to engage with science.

One project that he has been involved in recently is named ‘Bee Lab’.

The aim to use the power of technology and Open Design to enhance the practice of beekeeping – making it easier for beekeepers to care for bees in today’#s unpredictable environmental landscape –

The research carried out with Bee Lab could be extremely useful

We need to be specific

Before we go any further we need to specify exactly what we’re doing, why we’re doing it by answering a few different questions:

  1.  Firstly, we should gather together three mission statements of what we’re trying to achieve.
  2. Next we should define our mechanism e.g. a mechanism that encourages people to feed birds more or make a garden more habitable for a hedgehog family etc.
  3. The third question to ask is how do we get people to care? Look into the impact of what’s being done and the correlations already out there.
    Springwatch – A good example of engagement and interest by giving the animal’s personality
    Make it easy and accessible – Dumb things down to lower the barrier of entry
    Educate – How do we inform people in the right way? e.g. if you don’t clean a bird feeder enough or wash them birds can get serious diseases, therefore active participation can sometimes make things worse.
  4. What information is needed to protect a certain species?
  5. What is the point of least intervention?

By taking a moment to answer these questions and draft up a plan we will be able to work with a solid foundation towards an end solution. We can then use existing technologies to come up with an idea that will both help engage people in civic participation and citizen science.


Focus on Bees / Hedgehogs / Birds / Bats? Are we trying to educate or get people out there together.

Talk to people about their knowledge of our target area.

  • What is already known?
  • Do they care?
  • Where do they currently get their information from?


  • Is there anything related to what we’re doing in the current curriculum?
  • Do local schools have beehives?
  • What’s being done? Gardening? Visiting local forests?
  • What about packing in the ‘Bee lab’ sensors and a worksheet into a curriculum that can help engage the younger audience.
  • Playing with the data to manage and take an interest in how their beehives are doing.
  • Engaging the wider audience. Why do we care about the bees? Each feedback of data could be linked to certain educational issues.
  • What Key Stage would we target?


Once we answer the questions we can do more research with a clearer direction. Having already emailed Avon Wildlife Trust we have made a good start but we need to know exactly what we want, and to be specific when talking to them.

Note: We don’t have to commit to Avon if we want to focus on Bees and they require something different (plenty of bee charities in Bristol).


Naturebytes – A community that creates and uses technology to re-connect people with wildlife in new and exciting ways.

Public Lab – A community where you can learn how to investigate environmental concerns.




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