Asee peer logo

Citizen Scientists Engagement in Air Quality Measurements

Download Paper |


2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Hands-On Projects and Demos

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Anthony Butterfield University of Utah

visit author page

Anthony Butterfield is an Assistant Professor (Lecturing) in the Chemical Engineering Department of the University of Utah. He received his B. S. and Ph. D. from the University of Utah and a M. S. from the University of California, San Diego. His teaching responsibilities include the senior unit operations laboratory and freshman design laboratory. His research interests focus on undergraduate education, targeted drug delivery, photobioreactor design, and instrumentation.

visit author page

author page

Katrina My Quyen Le AMES High School

author page

Kerry Kelly University of Utah Orcid 16x16

author page

Pascal Goffin University of Utah

author page

Thomas Becnel University of Utah

author page

Pierre-Emmanuel GAILLARDON University of Utah

Download Paper |


Citizen scientist efforts have been shown to effectively engage the public in STEM departments and result in valuable data, which are capable of answering worthy research questions. However, most citizen scientist efforts have been centered in colleges of science, and a limited number have crossed into research areas important to chemical engineering fields. In this work we report on the results of a project to recruit high school and middle school students across [Name of valley removed to preserve double blind review] as citizen scientists, working in partnership with chemical engineering researchers in an effort to create a distributed online network of air quality sensors. Undergraduate mentors trained middle and high school students to monitor and maintain their own air quality sensor. Through partnerships with a local community group concerned with air quality, teaching materials were co-developed to both reach middle and high school students. Students learned the science behind the research and about the difficulties common to physical measurements, using these tailored teaching modules, to better prepare them to analyze their data. Once trained, students are expected to become semi-independent researchers in charge of monitoring and maintaining their piece of a larger air quality map. We describe in this work the hurdles inherent in such citizen science engagement, within a chemical engineering research program, and means to address them. We describe successful means of engaging classrooms, training citizen scientists, obtaining faculty buy-in within the confines of state curricular demands, and addressing school administration concerns.

Butterfield, A., & Le, K. M. Q., & Kelly, K., & Goffin, P., & Becnel, T., & GAILLARDON, P. (2018, June), Citizen Scientists Engagement in Air Quality Measurements Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30190

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015