The BigO project in schools

Why BigO?

We all want children to be able to grow-up in a healthy environment. Unfortunately, in the way the current living environment is shaped healthy behaviours, such as eating healthily and exercising, are often discouraged. The BigO project aims to gather information on how (un)healthy the behaviours and living environments of different students are. With the information of many students we can detect which aspects of behaviour and living environment are important to target in public health policies, so that healthy behaviour can be encouraged, rather than discouraged, by the students’ living environment.

How does BigO work?

In the BigO project students (age 9 – 18) become citizen scientists by collecting data regarding their behaviours and living environment with the myBigO app on a smartphone or smartwatch. This way they can experience what it entails to be a scientist and collect data, in an educational and fun way. Not only is it personally interesting, but with the information gathered, citizen scientists also help other children in the future by finding answers to the question of how the living environment of children across Europe can be made more healthy.

In myBigO app, students answer questions, take pictures of food advertisements they encounter, and of the foods they consume. This only takes a few minutes per day. In the online portal they can then see how their city compares to other cities, such as where the most food advertisements were found.

What do students learn?

Participating within BigO teaches children to observe their behaviour in a bigger picture, and become aware of different health behaviours and the effect of their surroundings on these behaviours.

Based on how much information they collect, students can go from an apprentice citizen scientist, to a bronze, silver or even gold medal citizen scientist. Depending on the school preferences, students can earn a real medal or diploma for their efforts.

Schools can participate as a whole and incorporate BigO into their lesson program. In addition, single classes can also participate. At this moment Ellinogermaniki Agogi  in Pallini, Greece, Ekpaideftiria N. Mpakogianni  in Lárissa, Greece, the Internationella Engelska Gymnasiet  in Stockholm, Sweden and the NTI Gymnasiet in Uppsala, Sweden are actively participating in BigO and are incorporating BigO into their lessons.

As an example, different groups of Swedish students visited different parts of Stockholm to photograph all food-related or general advertisements. They then could compare for example the percentage of advertisements of fast food between different neighbourhoods. After the school participation or the lessons in which BigO was incorporated are finished, students can make the decision to remain a citizen scientist and keep participating however long they like.

Of course students can only participate with the informed consent of their parents or guardians, and all data that is sent from the app to the server is anonymized and encrypted.

More information

Would you like to know more about the BigO project or how your school could join?

Please feel free to contact us via the BigO contact page.

School page of International Hellenic University in Greek


BigO never collects directly identifyable patient information (e.g. names, birthday) and uses automatically generated study-identifications (such as patient.user.001). Data that is collected is sent to the BigO server after removing irrelevant data in the smartphone. Sent data is anonymised and encrypted. Data is stored exclusively in European data centres and complies with the EU Directive 95/46/EC and the newer EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).