Skip to main content

National Science Foundation grant supports webcam study

Researchers with The Peregrine Fund and Boise State University received a National Science Foundation grant that will allow them to perform the first-ever study of the outcomes of live-streaming webcams as a tool in informal STEM learning.

STEM webcams are video cameras that livestream footage onto the internet and are operated by a STEM or STEM-education organization such as NASA or Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The footage can cover a range of subjects including volcanoes, coral reefs, bird nests, zoo exhibits, engineering projects, or views from space.

With more than 3.5 billion internet users on our planet, it is estimated that millions of people worldwide have collectively viewed STEM webcams hundreds of millions of times. Yet with all of this interest and all of the time and energy poured into facilitating these cameras, no published studies have examined the ability of STEM webcams to influence any aspect of learning among viewers.

Vanessa Crossgrove Fry, interim director of the Idaho Policy Institute at Boise State University and co-lead on the study said, “We are thrilled to be partnering with The Peregrine Fund on this project. This research will allow us to inventory STEM webcams, survey those who are managing the webcams to understand their goals for the livestreams, and survey the viewers of those cameras to assess whether the intended goals are being achieved.”