PocketLab + SciStarter = a [citizen] science lab that fits in your pocket.

By Darlene Cavalier July 23rd, 2016 at 12:06 am | Comment

Screen shot 2016-07-22 at 11.10.08 PM

PocketLab connects with a single button to a smart phone, tablet, Chromebook, or computer and instantly streams data that you can see and record. PocketLab measures motion, acceleration, angular velocity, magnetic field, pressure, altitude, and temperature. Using the PocketLab app, you can easily analyze your data, create graphs, and integrate your data with other software. PocketLab has the same features as lab equipment that costs thousands of dollars but is low cost and intuitive to use.

use coupon code SCISTARTER and save $20 per order!

Use coupon code SCISTARTER and save $20 per order!

SciStarter and PocketLab have teamed up to make it easier for citizen scientists to access PocketLab.

Click here to purchase a PocketLab and be sure to type SCISTARTER as your “coupon code” to receive a discount on your purchase. AND…PocketLab will donate a portion of all sales to SciStarter! A win/win for citizen science!

Soon, we’ll help hundreds of PocketLab owners find awesome citizen science projects in need of their experiments and data!

Here’s more information on PocketLab. If you purchase one, we’d love to hear what you think of it and how you used it!

Poké Around With Citizen Science

By Guest July 22nd, 2016 at 1:39 am | Comment

It's taking the world by storm. How can citizen science benefit? (Credit: Eduardo Woo/(CC BY-SA 2.0)

It’s taking the world by storm. How can citizen science benefit? (Credit: Eduardo Woo/(CC BY-SA 2.0)

by Jennifer Cutraro

By now, you’ve surely seen, heard about, or even joined the hordes of people wandering about outdoors,  phones held right in front of their faces. In the two weeks since Pokémon Go’s release, there’s been much ado about the game: how it gets people outdoors, how it promotes physical activity, how it’s already sparked a robust community of haters, and the risks of playing the game without paying attention to your surroundings.

Risks aside, I’m not the first to be jumping-up-and-down excited about the educational and research opportunities this presents. Within days of Pokémon Go’s launch, entomologist Morgan Jackson created the hashtag #PokeBlitz — a clever mashup of Pokémon and BioBlitz, a type of time-limited biodiversity scavenger hunt. He and a community of scientists and educators are using it on Twitter to help other gamers identify the IRL — in real life — plants and animals they encounter while on their Pokémon adventures. It’s a great way to learn about the plants and animals that share your neighborhood.

Pokémon Go also presents a great opportunity for citizen science — if you’re already out looking for charmeleon and poliwrath, you can contribute to one of many projects around the country looking for information about the (actual)  plants, animals, and even stars you see right in your neighborhood. Here are some projects to help you get started:

If you have no idea what kind of tree, bird, or mushroom you’ve found, that’s  no problem. After you share a photo on Twitter with the #PokeBlitz hashtag, send it along to iNaturalist, where a team of amateur naturalists can also help identify the species you found. iNaturalist has a free app that makes it easy for you to share photos with their community, including a “Help Me ID This Species” button. Every photograph you share with iNaturalist contributes valuable data to scientists monitoring species occurrences around the world. Browse their site to check out photos of plants and animals others in your local community have shared with iNaturalist — a simple and easy way to learn more about nature right in your neighborhood.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Celebrate Urban Birds program is a good starting point for both learning to identify common birds across the country and contributing information about your local species to this important citizen science program. If birds aren’t your thing, take time to smell the flowers, then share the flower’s location and life cycle stage with Project BudBurst, a nationwide phenology monitoring program with a robust collection of curriculum and other materials for educators and families. You can also help scientists learn more about seasonal migration by sending information about songbirds, butterflies, and other species you stumble upon at your PokéStop to Journey North.

If you’re out in the evening, count the number of stars you see for GLOBE at Night, a campaign measuring light pollution around the world. You also can use your phone’s camera to record light pollution levels in your area, data the folks at the Dark Sky Meter project would really like to have. And if you’re lucky enough to see fireflies when you’re outdoors, please share that information with our friends over at Firefly Watch.

To be fair, there’s no shortage of opinion about Pokémon Go — what it means for meaningful outdoor experience, the place of technology in the outdoors, whether it just provides another way to disengage from the world around us. In a thoughtful piece in the New York Times, Richard Louv, author of Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-RIch Life, shares his nuanced perspective on how we might consider Pokémon Go’s potential to encourage people to explore nature. He offers us all a simple frame of reference:  

“Here’s a litmus test: how long does it take a person to look up from the screen and actually experience the natural world?”

To me, that’s a helpful and practical lens through which to view any piece of technology or media. Whether it’s watching TV, playing a game, hanging out on social media or, yes, playing Pokémon Go, we all need to look away from the screen from time to time. You might be more likely to do just that if you also turn your Pokémon Go adventure into an opportunity to get to know your actual neighborhood, learn a little about nature, and contribute to science research along the way.


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!

Are We Alone? Citizen Science and the Search for Exoplanets

By Kristin Butler July 20th, 2016 at 9:56 am | Comment

Image Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Image Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser CC BY 4.0

Recently I attended a lecture by award-winning astronomy professor Dr. Andrew Fraknoi, who spoke about the most exciting research happening in astronomy today. He said that while black holes and gravity waves are interesting, the research he finds most intriguing is the search for planets in other solar systems, called exoplanets.

What sets exoplanet research apart, he said, is that it takes us a step closer to answering the fundamental question humans have always wondered … are we alone?

I was excited by his statement because I also recently met a couple of scientists at Mauna Kea’s Keck Observatory in Hawaii who have created a new citizen science project—called Project PANOPTES—focused on the search for exoplanets. Read the rest of this entry »

Citizen Science in SPAAAAAACE!

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) July 14th, 2016 at 11:42 pm | Comment

Photo: NASA
Heavenly Citizen Science
“80% of North Americans cannot see the Milky Way because of the effects of artificial lighting,” according to The Guardian. Measure light pollution near you this week and contribute to this important research. Or, if you’re lucky enough to see the heavens, there’s a citizen science project in need of your observations. Our editors highlight seven, out-of-this-world projects, below. Find even more projects with the SciStarter Global Project Finder.

Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

Photo: NASA
Target Asteroids!
Do you take pictures of asteroids? If so, consider sharing them! Photographing asteroids through a telescope and sharing your images will advance understanding of the asteroids near our planet.

Photo: Dora Miller
Aurorasaurus

The Northern and Southern lights offer some of the most breathtaking views on earth. If you have a chance to witness them, you can report your observations. Volunteers can also verify reports from social media.

Photo: Olivier Guyon
PANOPTES
School and community groups interested in astronomy can purchase a high-tech robotic telescope that can be used to search for planets in other solar systems. It’s a great way for dedicated citizen scientists to increase their viewing power.

Photo: Bill Ingalls
American Meteor Society- Meteor Observing
Reporting meteors is easy with this project. You can enter your observation online or use a smartphone app. With the data you provide, scientists can plot meteor trajectories.

Photo: NASA
GLOBE at Night
If you’re not seeing stars and meteors when you look into the night sky, it could be because of light pollution. With this project, you can measure the brightness of the night sky in your area and learn how light from urban areas impacts stargazing, ecology, and more.

Photo: DDQ
Dark Sky Meter
With just the camera on your phone and an iPhone app, you can collect data on light pollution and contribute to a global map of sky brightness.

Photo: Royal Society of Chemistry
Mission: Starlight
If you’re interested in space travel but not in stargazing, this is the project for you! A global experiment is being discovered to determine which substances can best protect astronauts from harmful UV rays in space, and you can participate!

Want to learn more about the field of citizen science?

Do you run a project that requires tools (telescope, sensor, rain gauge)? We want to hear from you! Please take this brief survey.

Categories: Citizen Science

Crowdsource Your Data Collection?

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) July 6th, 2016 at 9:32 am | Comment

Here are some excerpts from a recent article about SciStarter, as originally published by Environmental BioPhyics, “a group of scientists passionate about measuring the environment.”

enviro_biophysics_logo-011-300x83

Measuring and Modeling the Environment

Credit: EnvironmentalPhyics.org

Credit: EnvironmentalPhyics.org

Crowdsource Your Data Collection?

What can you do when you need data from all over the world in a short amount of time?  Many scientists, including ones at JPL/NASA, are crowdsourcing their data collection.

Darlene Cavalier, Professor of Practice at Arizona State University is the founder of SciStarter, a website where scientists make data collection requests to a community of volunteers who are interested in collecting and analyzing data for scientific research.

Cavalier is determined to create pathways between citizen science and citizen science policy. She says, “The hope is after people engage in citizen science projects, they will want to participate in deliberations around related science policy. Or perhaps policy decision makers will want to be part of the discovery process by contributing or analyzing scientific data.”  Darlene has partnered with Arizona State University and other organizers to form a very active network called Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST).  This group seeks to unite citizens, scientific experts, and government decision makers in discussions evaluating science policy. Cavaliers says, “The process allows us to discover ethical and societal issues that may not come up if there were only scientists and policy makers in a room.  It’s a network which allows us to take these conversations out of Washington D.C.  The conversations may originate and ultimately circle back there, but the actual public deliberations are held across the country, so we get a cross-section of input from different Americans.” ECAST has been contracted by NASA, NOAA, the Department of Energy, and others to explore specific policy questions that would benefit from the public’s input.

Overcoming Obstacles

Another obstacle to some types of research is access to instrumentation.  Darlene comments, “The NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) project really opened our eyes to how many obstacles can exist between the spectrum of recruiting, training, equipping, and fully engaging a participant.”  This year, SciStarter is building a database of citizen science tools and instruments and will begin to create the digital infrastructure to map tools to people and projects through a “Build, Borrow, Buy” function on project pages.

earth-11047_640

“The NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) project really opened our eyes to how many obstacles can exist to full engagement.”

What’s Next?

Darlene says that sometimes scientists who want accurate data without knowing about or identifying a particular sensor for participants to use often create room for data errors.   To address this problem, SciStarter and Arizona State University will be hosting a Citizen Science Maker summit this fall where scientists, citizen scientists, and commercial developers of instrumentation will meet to determine if it’s possible to fill gaps to develop and scale access to inexpensive, modular instruments that could be used in different types of research.  You can learn more about crowdsourcing your data collection with SciStarter here.

Read the full article: Crowdsource Your Data Collection?