Community Science Workshops

CSW Core Values

A prime motivating force for the CSW movement is the simple idea that a shared experience in directly engaging with natural phenomena enriches the mind, advances society, and sustains the environment.

CSW's are dedicated spaces for creating these shared experiences.

We embrace the cause that CSW's can and should exist in every community throughout the world, and that this effort begins in neighborhoods where the greatest ascribed science deficit exists.

Recognizing that human-made forces-- even if unintentionally--undermine our efforts, we dutifully strive towards an ideal we believe in, that our movement--grounded in nature itself--will at least immediately impact the communities it directly serves, and at most will affect greater change.

To this end we follow, to the degree possible, the following guidelines (in no order of priority):

  1. The tools, materials, and equipment in a CSW are found, recycled, gifted...and, as little as possible, bought new. This is consistent with:
    1. sustaining the environment,
    2. belief that fundamentally it is not money that makes a good science program, it is a culture of curiosity and creativity,
    3. belief that there is value in the use of older technologies in an educational context. As a rule, the more modern the technology, the more layers that exist between the observer and the observed, and
    4. belief that technologies can be motivated by influences that do not prioritize the values, intentions, and needs of the user. This is particularly concerning in the CSW context, where the authenticity of the connection between observer and the observed is integral.
  2. Allow free-choice access to free-choice science and engineering by participants. This includes efforts toward:
    1. drop-in hours whenever school is out,
    2. unlocked doors and/or the distribution of keys to community members,
    3. unlocked materials and equipment,
    4. transportation where transportation is necessary, and specifically free-choice transportation where the participant has agency over his or her travel--in contrast to adult-facilitated transportation that is planned, scheduled, or otherwise directly controlled by another agent.
  3. No curriculum. Free-choice in the activities that participants do.
    1. Priority of space, time, and resources, will always be given to a student-driven project.
    2. Consistent with belief that a CSW is uniquely qualified for an existing and growing deficit in kids’ ability to pursue a science/engineering passion project.
    3. Consistent with the belief that older mentors in science Dan, Curt, etc. found joy and meaning in life through having access to the time, space, resources similar to those available in a CSW, and that this joy and meaning deserves to be payed forward.
  4. Compassion. Authentic Science experiences are human experiences. That experience is prioritized.
  5. As much as possible, facilitators, volunteers, and participants are from the immediate neighborhood in which the CSW exists.
  6. As much as possible, a CSW prioritizes the relationship between the child and nature.
    1. Consistent with belief that curiosity and creativity are innate.
    2. Consistent with belief that the pursuit of curiosity and realization of creativity gives meaning and purpose to the individual.
    3. Consistent with the belief that the pursuit of curiosity and realization of creativity builds a sense of agency and confidence.
    4. Consistent with the belief that the pursuit of curiosity and realization of creativity cultivates deep respect for the environment.
  7. CSW’s prioritize hands-on, direct interactions with physical phenomena. These experiences take precedence over other more didactic experiences which place a science authority figure and/or external agenda at the center, whether it be through books, videos, lectures, and demonstrations. It is important to note that, in seeming contrast to this, “teachable moments”--when a nugget of wisdom or tool is communicated to a less experienced explorer at just the right time in just the right context--these moments require an authentic connection to the student and a real appreciation for the phenomenon.