What is Parenting Science Gang?

Parenting Science Gang is a ground-breaking, user-led citizen science project. Between March 2017 and March 2019 it brought over 2,500 parents to together in groups to answer the questions:

  • What parenting questions do we need evidence-based answers for?
  • How can we design experiments to answer those questions?

The project built on the approach successfully piloted with Nappy Science Gang, which involved hundreds of volunteers over one year. They researched, designed and ran their own experiments related to reusable nappies. Among other successes, the group induced the NHS to change their guidelines on washing baby items  and discovered an unexpected and interesting cloth nappy phenomenon.

Parenting Science Gang was funded by Wellcome and instigated by science-communicator-turned-parent, Sophia Collins.

Who took part?

Year one groups:

  • Breastfeeding Older Babies and Beyond
  • UK Breastfeeding and Parenting Support
  • Science-Aware Natural Parenting
  • Bumps, Babies and Beyond, Dumfries and Galloway

Year two groups:

  • Breastfeeding and Health Care Experiences
  • Let Toys Be Toys
  • Big Birthas
  • Mealtime Hostage

Why do user-led citizen science with parents?

  • We may uncover questions which science isn’t answering, but which make a difference to some groups of parents. Scientists (well-meaning, well-read scientists) can overlook things that matter to the groups they work with if they aren’t a member themselves.
  • Actually designing and running your own experiment gives an unparalleled insight into the scientific process for the volunteers.
  • It changes volunteers’ relationship to science – from science being ‘over there’ and done by ‘boffins’ to something they can do themselves.
  • Early parenthood can be scary, isolating and confidence-shaking but it’s also a crucial time in the child’s life. Giving parents the tools and, crucially, the confidence to understand and critically evaluate scientific information and whether advice is evidence-based is very powerful.
  • Citizen science is the best way to answer questions pertinent to the ‘citizens’. (Source)
  • Research shows that family members engaging with science in some way, and talking about science in everyday life, has a large effect on children’s future STEM aspirations, especially for girls and other under-represented groups.

Ask us a question …

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Parenting Science Gang is the public face (and where everything happens, except some accounting!) of the company Science is People Ltd
Company number: 555488
Registered address: Tormoulin, Balmaclellan, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire, DG7 3QS