The project “OdourCollect and elderly people: digitizing and co-creating our olfactory memory” has come to an end. Thanks to the collaboration with the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) we have been working with older people to encourage their participation in citizen science projects from a very special starting point: smell, memory and art.

At Science For Change and OdourCollect, the citizen science application to monitor odour, we are committed to empowering older people in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and in their participation in science. For this reason, we have carried out three pilot projects where participants used the OdourCollect app to map smells, shared their olfactory memories and captured the memories linked to these smells in artistic objects.

More than 40 older people participated in the pilots, which were carried out in the towns of Barcelona, ​​Vilanova i la Geltrú and Ataun, in the Basque Country. Each pilot consisted of three workshops:

  • In the first workshop, we focused on the use of ICTs in an inclusive way, using the OdourCollect application and the concept of citizen science. We identified barriers to the inclusion of the elderly people in this type of projects and co-designed solutions to promote the participation of this group in science."
  • In the second workshop, the participants took a trip back in time towards olfactory memory. We talked about the science behind the smells, the connection of smell with memory and emotions, and we build collective memories."
  • In the third workshop, it was time to put the nose, memory and hands to work! The participants explored their olfactory memories through the creation of artistic objects."

Guide of recommendations for the inclusion of older people in citizen science projects

Throughout this project, spaces for dialogue have been generated to reflect on the impact of odours on people’s well-being, and the participation of older people in citizen science projects has been encouraged, generating co-creation spaces to identify challenges and find solutions to involve them in this type of projects.

As a result of this collaborative work and thanks to all the knowledge contributed by the participants during the three pilots, we have developed a “Guide of recommendations for the inclusion of older people in citizen science projects”. This guide aims to offer recommendations and strategies to overcome inclusion barriers for older people and promote their participation in citizen science projects and scientific dissemination activities.

This guide is a great step towards the inclusion of older people in citizen science. By overcoming barriers, we not only enrich research, but also foster a more collaborative and equitable society.

Agostina Bianchi

Project manager and health specialist at SFC.

But this is not all. Thanks to the collaborative work carried out by all the people who participated in the project, 3 artistic exhibitions were held in each of the places where the pilots took place. These works emerged as a result of the exploration of their memories and memories through smells, and for each of them the participants chose different materials to make their artistic creations. 

The different exhibitions were open to the public for a few days in the different places where the workshops were held, and more than 100 people were able to visit them.

As a finishing touch and so that no one misses the chance to see them, a few weeks ago we published the virtual exhibition “Digitizing olfactory memories” in a virtual museum, don’t miss it!

This project has been carried out with the collaboration of the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology – Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities.

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