Collaborative Citizen Science for Clean Water Management

By Guest | March 15, 2017 5:46 pm

By Lishka Arata, Conservation Educator at Point Blue

Volunteers collecting a sample from the lake to examine under the microscope. Photo: CMC

Despite the current administration’s efforts to roll back the Clean Water Act and dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, interest and participation is growing in a new EPA- and stakeholder-led citizen science project that aims to inform clean water management.

The Cyanobacteria Monitoring Collaborative has been gathering steam since 2010, when Hilary Snook, EPA Senior Water Quality Scientist, began receiving calls from state water quality agencies with complaints from their constituents about cyanobacteria blooms occurring in their waters.

A collaborative workgroup was formed between New England state water quality scientists and the EPA in an effort to create something that was stakeholder-inclusive and educational for those concerned about and involved in addressing cyanobacteria blooms and the water quality issues that surround them. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Environment

It’s Raining Cats and Dogs and CoCoRaHS Wants to Know Where and How Many Fell

By acrall | March 11, 2017 8:24 am

You may have noticed some strange weather recently where you live. For example, in February, it reached 100o in Mangum, Oklahoma when 56o is the average. For the first time ever, temperatures in Antartica rose to the high 60s. And when was the last time you saw a headline reading Hawaii Has Had More Snow than Chicago or Denver in 2017? Some may link these strange events to a changing climate, and although climate influences weather patterns, it’s important to make a distinction between the two to fully understand the impacts of global climate change.

Neil Degrasse Tyson communicates this distinction with an analogy of a man walking his dog, and another common analogy states: “weather influences what clothes you wear on a given day, while the climate where you live influences the entire wardrobe you buy.” Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science

Book Review: Diary of a Citizen Scientist

By Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher | March 9, 2017 4:46 pm

Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and other New Ways of Engaging the World by Sharman Apt Russell. Oregon State University Press. 2014.  

From the very first pages, Russell’s diary pulls the reader into experience. Vivid descriptions, lively metaphors, and breathless narrative bring together her diary entries into a larger story of becoming a scientist. Russell and her tiger beetles are revealed within her first entry—these are indeed the main characters in the story that follows—and we find a scientist at the beginning of her expedition into the mysterious world of tiger beetles.
Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science

Reef Check Underwater Science

By Kristin Butler | March 3, 2017 8:00 am

“People protect what they love.” ~ Jacques Yves Cousteau

When I was a kid, my family and I used to love watching “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.” Every week we’d set out the TV tables and share our dinner with the French marine explorer as he led us on underwater adventures and taught us to appreciate the beauty of science and the sea.

His show is one of the main reasons I became an environmental reporter and earned my scuba diving certification in Monterey Bay, and it made a similar positive impact on millions of other kids and families across the globe.  Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Environment

Citizen Science to track weather and climate change

By Eva Lewandowski | March 2, 2017 9:57 am
Photo: NASA

Photo: NASA

Many scientists rely on “small data” from  volunteers to understand local and global weather patterns and climate change. Collectively, the data are used to calibrate weather instruments on NASA satellites, or by the National Weather Service to refine forecasts or flood warnings.  Below, we highlight five projects turning small data into big impacts.  You can find more projects on SciStarter to do now or bookmark your favorites for later.  Learn more about small-to-big data in citizen science.

Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

CoCoRaHS
Install a rain gauge and start measuring precipitation with the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network. The data are publicly available and used by weather forecasters, scientists, farmers, and more.
Get started! United States, Canada, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Photo: Osvaldo Sala
International Drought Experiment
This ambitious global experiment is attempting to measure drought effects in different ecosystems. You’ll need to build or purchase “drought shelters” making this an ideal, long-term project for schools and community groups.
Get started! Global

MIT Climate CoLab
Climate CoLab uses collective intelligence and creativity to find ways to counteract climate change. When you join the project, you collaborate with people from across the world to develop proposals to combat climate change.

Photo: USFWS
Picture Pile
A huge array of online photographs awaits you. By sorting and classifying the images, you will help researchers study issues including global climate change.
Get started! Online

Photo: USFWS
NASA Globe Observer: Clouds
Satellite images convey important information about the earth, but on-the-ground data are also needed to “ground-truth” satellite data. You can help by taking photos of clouds and sky conditions, identifying the types of clouds you see, and sharing the information with NASA.
Get started! Global


Excited about urban nature? The City Nature Challenge will be happening in cities across the United States this Spring. Find one near you in the SciStarter Event Finder!  Want more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With 1100+ citizen science projects spanning every field of research, task and age group, there’s something for everyone!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Environment

Out of Sight, Out Of Mind: Visualizing the Invisible

By Guest | February 21, 2017 2:15 pm

By Kaitlin Vortherms

When smog is so thick that it clouds our vision, we can see and acknowledge that air pollution is a problem. In December of last year, China issued its second ever red alert, their highest rating for air pollution, and last month, London broke modern air pollution records.

But on days when the haze has lifted, we tend to forget air pollution is still there. More to the point, we forget about how air pollution affects our health and the environment. It’s out of sight, and therefore, out of mind.

But what if we could actually see air pollution levels, even when the smog isn’t present? Would this motivate us to make changes about how we live our lives? This is where AirVisual comes in. Air Visual is a crowd-sourced platform that provides information and access to historical, real-time, and forecast air quality data in a visually engaging way. Read More

Citizen Science in the City

By Eva Lewandowski | February 17, 2017 2:25 pm
unnamed (2)Do you live or work in a city? Well, have we got the projects for YOU! Below, we highlight research projects in need of your help in cities.  Find more projects on SciStarter to do now or bookmark your favorites for later!
Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science

Pluto, Planet Nine and Other Backyard Worlds

By Guest | February 15, 2017 6:05 pm

By: Marc J. Kuchner

Eighty-seven years ago, this week, Clyde Tombaugh was poring over a pair of photographic plates, hoping to change the world.  He was staring hard into an arcane device called a blink comparator, which allowed him to rapidly switch from viewing one image to the next. In those days before computers, that was the best tool he had for finding the faint, moving dot he was seeking, a new planet in our solar system.

When Tombaugh discovered Pluto in those photographic plates on February 18, 1930, the news made headlines all around the globe. “In the little cluster of orbs which scampers across the sidereal abyss under the name of the solar system there are, be it known, nine instead of a mere eight, worlds,” said the New York Times. It was a victory for Tombaugh, and for astronomy. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Space & Physics

SciStarter brings citizen science to AAAS Family Science Days in Boston!

By Catherine Hoffman | February 10, 2017 9:13 pm

Join  SciStarter, Science Cheerleader and our partners from Discover Magazine and Astronomy Magazine at the free Family Science Days in Boston on February 18th-19th as part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting.

This free event features tons of interactive science exhibits. Come talk with scientists, learn about their jobs, and explore science! SciStarter will help you DO science with citizen science including counting birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count. recording your flu symptoms for Flu Near You, observing clouds to ground-truth NASA satellites with the GLOBE Cloud Observer app, hunting for Backyard Bark Beetles and more! We can’t wait for you to become a citizen scientist with us!

We’ll also be joined by our partners from Science Cheerleader. Watch physics in action when the MIT cheerleaders show off their stunts and bring to life the free ebook, The Science of Cheerleading! Be sure to catch the Science Cheerleader stage show on Sunday, February 19th at 11:30am, sharp!

Meet Science Cheerleader Hilary and a special guest from the hometown heroes, the New England Patriots Cheerleaders! Learn more about these women below.

Theresa: Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
I graduated from Yale University with a B.S. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. I am currently working at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard as a research associate in the laboratory of Feng Zhang. I am helping to develop a genome-editing platform by harnessing the crazy genome rearrangement pathway found in ciliated protozoa. Genome editing, or the ability to change the DNA code of human cells, allows us to further understand complicated genetic diseases such as cancer and someday could be used in therapeutics. I am currently applying to PhD programs in Biochemistry and Biophysics and I hope to continue contributing to scientific discovery throughout my career. My interest in science developed as a kid through science fair projects such as designing a seashell filter to remove lead contamination from water or harnessing wind energy with a kite power system. As a New England Patriots Cheerleader, I enjoy being engaged in the community and connecting with many different people. It has also allowed me to share my passion for science with kids and to encourage them to follow their own dreams, whatever they may be!

Hilary: Medical Oncology
I graduated from Colgate University with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. From there, I went on to do my PhD at Brown University in Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, which I defended in 2016. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School in William Kaelin’s lab. I am researching ways to selectively kill cancer cells based on the differences between cancer cells and normal cells. Currently, I am focusing on kidney cancer. I love my work, and I love getting people excited about it and about science in general (just like I loved getting the crowd excited as a cheerleader at Colgate!). I have been a regional coordinator with Science Cheerleader for almost five years, and one of my favorite things is watching young scientists get excited when they connect science to something they’re passionate about!

Kelly: Computational and Systems Biology

I graduated from Harvard with a degree in Engineering Sciences and I am now working on my PhD in Computational and Systems Biology at MIT.  Being a scientist, and being able to discover things that nobody else in the world knew until me, makes me incredibly happy.  I also like the fact that my research tries to answer “big questions” like understanding how our cells are capable of handling stress like starvation or temperature fluctuations.  Understanding protein folding and interactions in this context is like a big puzzle, and I am so lucky that I get to help fit a tiny piece of the puzzle into the whole. In both cheerleading and science, having passion for what you’re doing and having the self-confidence to do it are hugely important!  When you’re competing, there’s this saying to “leave it all on the mat” – do your best, don’t be afraid, believe that your stunts will hit, and give the performance of your life.  In science, loving what you do and not being afraid to do it are what will allow you to come up with completely new ideas that can reshape what we know about our world.

See you the AAAS Family Science Days in Boston!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Events

Flight of the Living Dead

By Guest | February 9, 2017 10:59 am

By: Ayla Fudala

If you’ve ever seen bees flying around at night, there’s a good chance they’re so-called “ZomBees”—honey bees whose brains are under the control of tiny fly larvae growing inside their bodies.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Education
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