Volunteers Protect Clean Water from Coast to Coast

By Guest | April 24, 2018 4:06 pm

By: Mara Dias and Colleen Henn

The Surfrider Foundation is pleased to release its 2017 Clean Water Annual Report, which tracks the progress of our Blue Water Task Force (BWTF) and Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) programs during the calendar year of 2017.  At a time when it can be difficult to depend on the federal agencies tasked with protecting our clean water and healthy coasts, it is encouraging to see how much a dedicated network of volunteers can accomplish in just one year! Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Environment

Just in time for Earth Day! Announcing Earth Challenge 2020, a global citizen science initiative.

By Darlene Cavalier | April 22, 2018 11:49 am

Earth Day Network, in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and U.S. Department of State, Announces Earth Challenge 2020 — A Citizen Science Initiative.
earth day citizen science logos

In anticipation of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, Earth Day Network, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the U.S. Department of State, through the Eco-Capitals Forum, announce Earth Challenge 2020, a Citizen Science Initiative. This initiative is in collaboration with Connect4Climate – World Bank Group, Conservation X Labs, Hult Prize, National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), Reset, SciStarter, UN Environment and others to be announced.

Earth Challenge 2020 will help fulfill our goal of engaging millions of global citizens in collecting one billion data points in areas including air and water quality, pollution and human health. Citizen science volunteers around the world, working with professional scientists, will collect and share earth science data of their local communities on an unprecedented scale, providing new insight on the state of our environment.

Our initiative aims to contribute to and inform research and to educate members of the public by raising environmental and scientific literacy. By leveraging citizen science, we will drive meaningful action, empowering people to work with decision makers, including the private sector and policymakers at all levels, to make better choices.

In 2019 hackathons will be hosted around the world to help create technologies and data platforms that will underpin Earth Challenge 2020. These events will connect Earth Challenge 2020 with existing and emerging citizen science projects, highlighting successes and crowdsourcing solutions to challenges. These global hackathons will develop new hardware and software for gathering and sharing data, including an official Earth Challenge 2020 mobile app. The initial data collection campaign will launch on April 1, 2020, with the objective of collecting one billion data points by Earth Day.

Earth Challenge 2020 will result in a platform of open source data that will live, grow and connect with other global efforts, including those of governments, multilateral and scientific institutions and non-governmental organizations. Our initiative will include a broad and cross-cutting social media effort, encouraging participants to share stories, videos, photos, and other media to build a global movement and community.

The modern environmental movement was born on the first Earth Day in 1970, when 20 million people joined together changing the way we understand and manage the environment. Today, with the inclusion of new communications technology, people have the capacity to measure and make decisions about their own environment. With the support of valued partners and global citizens, Earth Challenge 2020 has the potential to be the largest coordinated citizen science project ever attempted on Earth.


Earth Day Network
Contact: Denice Zeck
Phone: (202) 355-8875

The Wilson Center
Contact: Ryan McKenna
Phone: (202) 691-4217

U.S. Department of State
Contact: State GDI Team


The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN), the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, works year round with tens of thousands of partners in 192 countries on global reforestation, climate and environmental literacy, ending plastic pollution and protecting biodiversity. EDN’s goal is to build environmental democracy and to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement worldwide.


The Wilson Center is the nation’s key non-partisan policy forum for tackling global issues through independent research and open dialogue to inform actionable ideas for the policy community. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world. The Wilson Center currently incubates the Citizen Science Global Partnership (CSGP), an emerging network-of-networks launched at the UN Science-Policy Business Forum on the Environment, that seeks to promote citizen science for a sustainable world.


The U.S. Department of State leads America’s foreign policy through diplomacy, advocacy, and assistance by advancing the interests of the American people, their safety and economic prosperity. The Eco-Capitals Forum (ECF) is a global initiative to make diplomacy a vital driver of sustainable cities. ECF serves as a consortium for the diplomatic community to share best practices and challenges, leverage economies of scale to implement renewable energy and waste management solutions, and support and laud efforts by individual embassies to reduce their environmental footprints and costs. As a partnership between the diplomatic community, city government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local businesses, world-wide chapters of the ECF provides a unique platform for communities to come together for sustainability.



Connect4Climate is a global communications program launched by the World Bank Group and the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea, together with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, that takes on climate change by supporting ambitious leadership, promoting transformative solutions and encouraging collective action. The Connect4Climate community brings together about 500 partners around the world including civil society groups, media networks, international organizations, academic institutions, youth groups, and the private sector.


Conservation X Labs (CXL) believes that the power to solve environmental challenges lies in people everywhere. CXL is a 501c3 and Benefit Corporation that sources, develops, and scales exponential technologies for conservation through open innovation and a for-profit entrepreneurship financial model. We aim to dramatically improve the efficacy, cost, speed, sustainability and scale of conservation efforts through various programs that engage and incentivize a greater diversity and disciplines of solvers., Make for the Planet hackathons, mass-collaboration of problem solving and technology prizes in our Digital Makerspace.


The Hult Prize Foundation is the world’s largest engine for the creation and launch of market- based, SDG-aligned, sustainable, and impact-centered startups emerging from university, offering a grand prize of USD1 million. The year long, September to September program focuses on immersion based learning and converting typical job-seeking students into game-changing entrepreneurs world-wide.


NCSE advances the use of science to inform environmental policy and decision-making. NCSE programs include interdisciplinary research, scientific assessment, information dissemination, training and curriculum development. NCSE engages scientists, educators, policymakers, business leaders and officials at all levels of government. NCSE is a non-profit organization established in 1990 and has a longstanding reputation for non-partisanship.


OGC is a non-profit international industry consortium of over 520 companies, government agencies, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly-available standards that enable the creation, discovery, and use of geospatial information. The vision of OGC is a world in which everyone benefits from the use of geospatial information and supporting technologies. OGC members are in the process of developing a common data model and standard, SWE For Citizen Science (Swe4cs), that will suitable for collecting and sharing citizen science data in a range of domains, and integrating citizen science data with information from professional research activities low cost sensors, research grade instruments, and Earth observations.


RESET is an international building standard and certification program for healthy buildings, as measured by sensors. Focused on quality, transparency and actionability of data, RESET sets global standards for air quality hardware (sensors), reporting software, as well as installation and maintenance. RESET is developed and administered by GIGA, an international organization that combines the development of building standards with cloud technology to increase the accessibility and impact of healthy buildings globally.


SciStarter is the place to find, join, and contribute to science through providing people access to more than 2700 searchable formal and informal research projects and events. But more than just a project directory, SciStarter also offers a coordinated place to record contributions and access the tools and instruments needed to participate in citizen science projects like Earth Challenge 2020. Over 100,000 global citizen scientists are part of the SciStarter community.


The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. Our mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

To sign up for updates or to get involved, email:

Earth Challenge 2020 A Citizen Science Initiative


Competition Meets Collaboration: The City Nature Challenge

By acrall | April 19, 2018 1:28 pm

When you hear the word “nature,” you’re likely to think of your last camping trip to a state park, or of grandiose landscapes with forests, lakes, and snow-capped mountains. You may remember the last trip to the beach and the variety of birds you saw while sunbathing. There are likely many images that pop into your head when you hear the word but the image of a city is likely not one of them. The City Nature Challenge hopes to change that. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Environment

A new citizen science project for dog lovers. MuttMix: Can You Guess That Mutt?

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | April 16, 2018 5:33 pm

Our first question upon hearing that someone has a new baby is usually “Is it a boy or a girl?” But our first question upon hearing that someone has gotten a new puppy is more often “What breed is it?” Breed is at the heart of how we perceive dogs. It affects many of our expectations of them – energy level, intelligence, friendliness – for better or for worse. With mutts, however, our urge to make breed-based assumptions can be stymied by the lack of a known breed to which to attach those assumptions. And so when you have a mutt (as I do), you learn to play the “what is it?” game. Some people guess, some people make up clever names (I have a Golden Collie, or sometimes a Border Retriever) – and some people have their dog genetically tested to determine its ancestry.

A new project, MuttMix , provides you with photos, video, and behavioral tidbits for mutts and lets you play the “What is it?” game to your heart’s content, for the benefit of science. Karlsson Lab , of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, has teamed up with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)  to try to find out how good people really are at guessing the breeds mixed up in the American mutt. We won’t release the answers immediately, because we want to be sure that no one has privileged information when they make their guesses, but after the project closes on June 16, we will release the breed mixes publicly (and start writing the journal article!). The project opens today, so go start guessing!

The breed calling algorithm behind MuttMix was designed by Dr. Linda Boettger as a postdoc at the Broad. Linda earned her PhD studying human genomics, and after graduating thought it would be fun to apply some of those same approaches to dogs. She explains, “Dogs are really the ultimate model system because they are the most morphologically diverse species of mammal and have been subject to intense selection pressures for both appearance and behavior. Plus, Elinor [the head of Karlsson Lab] told me that I could find out the breed ancestry of my dog, and all I had to do was write a ton of code!” Linda adopted her dog Skyler from a shelter, which told her Skyler was a Labrador/pit bull mix, but Linda was intrigued to find out that Skyler is actually a mix of many breeds, primarily Dalmatian and Rottweiler. (Sadly, Skyler passed away several months ago, but she was immortalized on the 2017 Karlsson Lab holiday card).

To test her algorithm, Linda needed mutts with highly mixed-up ancestries, but she also needed to know for sure what those ancestries were – a situation hard to come by in the real world. So she turned to software to simulate crosses using real purebred dog genomes to see what their puppies’ genomes might look like. She continued these simulations for many generations until arriving at mutts with ancestry from many breeds, similar to the real dogs involved in the MuttMix project.

Linda’s MuttMix breed calling algorithm “paints” the parts of each chromosome that have originated from a particular breed. In the case of Lucky, a mutt who lives with one of our lab members, each chromosome traces fragments to a variety of different breeds. By “painting” each chromosome fragment with its relevant breed heritage, we can see exactly where Lucky gets the traits that make up his unique look – drop ears from a toy poodle ancestor, a manly beard (or “furnishings”) from a Lhasa Apso. We can even predict that Lucky would do well in a high altitude environment due to a mutation he got from his altitude-adapted Lhasa ancestors.

Our citizen scientists who help us out with MuttMix may prove us wrong, but we’re hoping to show that it’s actually quite difficult to guess a dog’s breed based on looking at the dog, even with some video and behavioral descriptions to help them out. We all know at some level that every dog is an individual, but sometimes we forget that when we remember how gregarious the last Golden Retriever we met was, and see how much the yellow dog in front of us resembles that one. Even within a breed, canine personalities vary widely. Through MuttMix, we hope to be able to provide some solid scientific evidence that you can’t judge a dog by its fur color. But maybe you’ll prove us wrong, so please, go to MuttMix, take a look at the wide array of cute mutts we have there for you, and give us your best guesses!

Guest post by Jessica Hekman, DVM, PhD,  a postdoc at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she helps out with cool projects like MuttMix in addition to focusing on her own research, The Working Dog Project. Jessica has a mutt, Jenny, whose DNA is on the sequencer right now, and she can’t wait to see what Linda’s breed calling algorithm will have to say about this one. @dogzombieblog / facebook.com/dogzombieblog


MORE ABOUT: canine, dogs, mutts

Citizen Science Day celebrates and recruits people who engage in large-scale and local research

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | April 14, 2018 8:12 am

Month-long events include hands-on activities like nature festivals, museum events, trainings, bioblitzes, and more.

The “citizen science” movement is gathering momentum, as scientists, policy makers, and the public themselves recognize that EVERYONE can make meaningful contributions to research. SciStarter is teaming up with the Citizen Science Association to raise awareness of hundreds of events and research opportunities that will be offered as part of Citizen Science Day activities throughout the month.

The month of science-focused activities continues with regional events that allow everyone to participate in science that is making a difference in the world. SciStarter’s Event Finder includes details and links to all the events. Organizations and individuals can add their own events then use SciStarter’s People Finder to invite citizen scientists within a 100-mile radius. The SciStarter Citizen Science Events Calendar will feature hand-picked events throughout the year.

“Everyone involved in citizen science benefits: volunteers become more aware of the issues that scientists are (or aren’t!) addressing, and scientists receive valuable input from a diverse group of people,” said Darlene Cavalier, founder of SciStarter and Professor of Practice at Arizona State University. “Opportunities to engage range from simple tasks, like counting fireflies, to deeper, longer term commitments such as assembling and deploying sensors, and sharing and analyzing data.”

Locally-relevant activities are planned at museums, science centers, libraries, schools, parks, and nature centers, all with a goal of bringing attention to citizen science opportunities and impacts.

Here is a sampling of Citizen Science Days activities, or search here to find activities near you:

  • A BioBlitz Kick-Off in Pacific Grove, California. All you need to bring is “your curiosity, a mobile device or digital camera, and tons of enthusiasm.”
  • A citizen science fair in Cape Town, South Africa, to learn about the array of citizen science projects available in South Africa,
  • Two Kickoffs for the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, a citizen science project that will take place throughout the 2018 breeding season. Attend this event and you’ll have a citizen science project to participate in yearlong.
  • City Nature Challenges across the world from April 27-April 30 including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Rome, Barcelona, Hong Kong and many other locations. The challenge includes a friendly competition to see which city can document the most wildlife. Be a citizen scientist and snap and upload photos of the wildlife you see in your backyard, schoolyard, or local park.
  • March for Science all over the United States to show your support for science. Here are ways to DO science at the marches.
  • Libraries are displaying interactive Citizen Science Day interactive posters and books, and fliers, inviting scientists to come talk about their research projects.
  • Your Mission for Citizen Science Days:  Between April 14 and May 14, participate in any three SciStarter Affiliate projects featured here to earn a SciStarter certificate, score some swag, or chat with a project scientist you helped.

Citizen science initiatives succeed because of partnerships between volunteers and organizers, educators, scientists, data managers, technology specialists, evaluators, and others. The Citizen Science Association (CSA) works to advance excellence in citizen science across all project types by uniting the expertise of diverse practitioners, sharing resources and best practices, and highlighting the impacts of public participation in scientific research. CSA conferences are held biennially, with the next one scheduled for March 13-16, 2019, in Raleigh, NC.

SciStarter enables people to find, join, and contribute to science through informal recreational activities and formal research efforts. In addition to the Event Finder, SciStarter hosts a Project Finder, featuring 2,300 searchable citizen science projects. SciStarter recruits, trains, and equips participants through partnerships with Discover Magazine, PBS, the National Science Teachers Association, Pop Warner Youth Scholars, and more. News and announcements shared on Twitter @Scistarter. #CitSciDay2018

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Uncategorized

Your Research Mission for Citizen Science Day…

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | April 13, 2018 11:37 am

Your Research Mission iconWe’re kicking off Citizen Science Day with a mission for you. SciStarter is challenging you to join and participate (at least once) in any three SciStarter Affiliate projects listed here between April 14 and May 14. Complete your mission and you’ll earn a SciStarter certificate. Keep on participating during Citizen Science Days and you’ll be eligible to become one of the top three mission contributors to win some swag and be connected with of one the scientists you helped!

Will you choose to accept your mission?  Join SciStarter and get started here: https://scistarter.com/dashboard/mission/citsciday


Citizen Science in the City

By lshell | April 13, 2018 9:53 am
We’ve got a big weekend coming up for science! Not only is Citizen Science Day on April 14th, it’s also the March for Science and we’re also preparing for the City Nature Challenge! We’ve pulled together a long list of projects you could do in a city, so there’s something for everyone!
So, plan your weekend now and find a Citizen Science Day event, join your local March for Science or participate in your closest City Nature Challenge!
The SciStarter Team

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Environment, Events

Link to recorded webinar: “Citizen Science in Libraries: Fostering Community Connections on Citizen Science Day and Beyond”

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | April 11, 2018 12:30 am

citizen science day logoAre you interested in citizen science? Are you looking for new ways to engage with your community members, and would you like to encourage science discovery with more of your users? If you answered yes to any of the above, then check out this exciting recorded webinar featuring Darlene Cavalier, professor of practice at Arizona State University and the founder of SciStarter, a citizen science database and platform. Darlene describes several citizen science projects in public libraries in Arizona that are part of an Institute for Museum and Library Services grant, and she shares resources and information to spark ideas for your library.

Citizen science enables people from all walks of life to engage in formal and informal research to advance fields spanning astronomy to zoology.This recorded webinar, hosted by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, and the National Institutes of Health, featuring Arizona State University Libraries and SciStarter, provides a general overview of citizen science, highlights recent activities to support libraries as community hubs for citizen science, and showcases free resources available to librarians who want to jump in now by promoting citizen science at libraries leading up to, during, and after Citizen Science Day on April 14th.


Picnic Redux: Citizen Scientists Invite Ants to Lunch

By Guest | April 6, 2018 1:34 pm

By: Julia Travers

Scientists need your help to find out what ants in your neighborhood like to eat.

Would you ask an ant to join you for lunch? A team of researchers at North Carolina State University in Raleigh calls on citizen scientists around the world to flip the picnic concept – they want *us* to feed the ants. By counting ants, recording their meal preferences, and sending in data, you can help Dr. Magdalena Sorger and her colleagues better understand what foods ants have access to around the world. This citizen science project, called Ant Picnic, could spark new studies into ant behavior, natural resources, and the impact of global factors like climate change. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Living World

Meet the successful women playfully challenging stereotypes about cheerleaders and scientists.

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | April 5, 2018 6:42 pm

Members of the “Science Cheerleaders” team perform at USA Science & Engineering Festival and help families contribute to citizen science research.

2, 4, 6, 8, equals…20!  Learn science and math when the Science Cheerleaders perform at the USA Science & Engineering Festival this weekend. Science Cheerleaders aren’t just cheering for and about STEM,  they’re real-life scientists and engineers.

The Science Cheerleaders are also current and former NFL, NBA, and college cheerleaders pursuing careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). They playfully challenge stereotypes, inspire young women to consider careers in STEM, and engage people from all walks of life in real scientific research through SciStarter.

A dozen Science Cheerleaders from across the country will perform science-themed routines at the USA Science and Engineering Festival at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. They will talk to kids about their dual careers as scientists and professional cheerleaders, sign autographs on their personalized trading cards, demonstrate cheers and stunts from their Science of Cheerleading ebook, and lead citizen science activities selected from SciStarter.  See them on Saturday, April 7, 10:30 – 10:50 a.m. and Sunday, April 8, 12:10 – 12:30 p.m. on Stage C.

Two important STEM career paths will be highlighted as students try out new Science Cheerleader STEM activities created by the Science Cheerleaders:

  • Coding and Computer Engineering: Learn a little about how computers work using binary code. Apply your knowledge by decoding a puzzle. Then, use binary code to make a necklace that spells your name. Check out the profiles of Science Cheerleaders who are computer engineers!
  • Health & Medicine: How does the heart work? How do you monitor heart rates, and what’s the significance of low or high heart rates? Use a stethoscope to learn more while performing cheers and seeing the effects of activity on pulse. Find profiles of Science Cheerleaders who are surgeons.

These guided activities and conversations with the Science Cheerleaders are available on Saturday, April 7, 1 – 2 p.m. and Sunday, April 8, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m., both in Room 157.

Science Cheerleaders at USASEF (Follow the links for Q&A with each person):

Candess: Washington Redskins; B.S. Computer Science

Heather: Washington Redskins Ambassador; Ph.D. Neuroscience

Theresa: New England Patriots; Ph.D. student, Chemical Biology

Angela: Drexel U. Dragons Alumna; M.S. Student, Biomedical Engineering

Beverly: Drexel U. Dragons Alumna; Biomedical Engineer

Colleen: Bay Area Shuckers Alumna; B.S. and M.S. Fire Protection Engineering

Felicia: Miami Dolphins Alumna; M.S. and Ph.D., Clinical Psychology

Hilary: Colgate University Alumna; Ph.D. Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology

Janel: St. Louis University Alumna; M.S. Meteorology, B.S. Geography

Lauren: Washington Wizards & Washington Redskins Alumna; B.A. Math & Economics

Margaret: Baltimore Blast Alumna; Ph.D., Chemistry

MaryCarolyn: Washington Redskins Alumna; Statistician

Megan: Washington Redskins Alumna; B.S. Computer Engineering

Melissa: Tennessee Titans Alumna; B.S. Neuroscience

Regina: Washington Redskins Alumna; M.D. and J.D.

Samantha: Arizona Cardinals Alumna; B.S.E. Engineering Management

Wendy: Oakland Raiders, Sacramento Kings, & Atlanta Falcons Alumna: Ph.D, Biomedical Engineering

Families are encouraged to see the performance, participate in the activities, and meet the Science Cheerleaders in person. They are certain to inspire young ladies to think about working hard to achieve their own goals – and having fun along the way.


Citizen Science Salon

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Citizen Science Salon, brought to you by SciStarter, is where science enthusiasts can join forces with top researchers. We'll feature weekly collaborative, crowdsourced, and DIY research projects that relate to what you're reading about in Discover, so you can take science into your own hands. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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