Nature’s Notebook: Through the Eyes of a Citizen Scientist

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) March 30th, 2015 at 5:00 am | Comment

Bobcat in Chihuahuan Desert, New Mexico.  Image Credit: Sharman Apt Russel

Bobcat in Chihuahuan Desert, New Mexico. Image Credit: Sharman Apt Russel

This guest post by Sharman Apt Russel describes a citizen science experience with the the project, Nature’s Notebook featured on our recent Spring themed newsletter. Check out the rest of the projects on that list here. Nature’s Notebook is also one of more than 800 citizen science projects on SciStarter. Use our project finder to find one that fits your interests!

Here in the Chihuahuan Desert of southwestern New Mexico, I am intimate now with three trees in my backyard: a box elder (Acer negundo), a desert willow (Chilopsis linearis), and a honey mesquite (Prosopsis glandulosa). I know when these plants become luminous with the green of new leaves, when they flower, when their flowers turn to fruit, and when their fruit falls. I also have a warm relationship with a male four-winged saltbush (Atriplex canescens), having rubbed his yellow pollen sensuously between my fingers, and with a female four-winged saltbush, admiring her extravagant and seasonal cloak of papery seeds. Perhaps my greatest new friend, however, is a soaptree yucca (Yucca elata), whose single stalk grows up quickly and prominently in late spring, its buds producing a mass of scented creamy-white flowers—like a six-foot-high candle glowing in the dusk. Read the rest of this entry »

Spring is the Season for Citizen Science

By Eva Lewandowski March 25th, 2015 at 12:27 am | Comment

Photo: NPS

Photo: NPS

Here are six projects in need of your help as you walk the dog, work in your garden, clean the gutters, or do spring cleaning.

And check out these  new citizen science projects just added to the Project Finder on SciStarter.

Read the rest of this entry »

White House Recognizes Importance of Citizen Science

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) March 23rd, 2015 at 10:50 am | Comment

“Citizen Science” movement gaining ground through organizations including SciStarter

 

PHILADELPHIA, Penn. (March 23, 2015) – Citizen science engages the public in important research, and SciStarter is leading the way for scientists, enthusiasts and students to connect and collaborate on research. Even as President Obama recognizes the intelligence and effort of students at the White House Science Fair, the White House itself is joining and supporting the citizen science movement.

The White House will showcase that anyone can participate in citizen science by committing to install a new rain gauge in the First Lady’s Kitchen Garden, becoming part of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) citizen science network of over 20,000 active participants who serve as the largest source of daily precipitation data in the United States.

“We’re seeing tremendous increases in citizen science participation among both youth and adults,” said Darlene Cavalier, founder of SciStarter and a professor at Arizona State University’s Center for Engagement and Training in Science and Society.  “Citizen science has been proven to advance all areas of serious research and I’m thrilled to attend the White House Science Fair this morning where the emphasis is on education and the future; a future that will be shaped by remarkable teens including  Tiye Garret-Mills, 17, from Colorado who will be honored at the White House event this morning for developing a low cost method to identify leaves. With global citizen science projects underway to identify tree species, this may become a crucial tool. Our goal at SciStarter is to empower the public by connecting them to meaningful opportunities to engage in STEM, while providing access to the tools and resources that will enhance their experience and support their valuable contributions.”

To that end, SciStarter is joining forces with Public Lab as part of a national effort to create a new Citizen Science Tool lending library and store to enable more than 50,000 people the opportunity to participate in scientific inquiry. This library and store will broaden the scope of tools available to schools and the general public for research.  SciStarter and Public Lab are working in collaboration with the Museum of Science Boston and Arizona State University’s Center for Engagement and Training in Science and Society.

Quality research is important, so SciStarter is working with STEM curriculum developers and educators from the Broward County, FL School District (the 6th largest in the country), educators from the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, and a distributed network of educators to align 500 citizen science projects featured on SciStarter, with Science and Engineering Practices.  The projects will be searchable by their Practice, making it easier for educators to find the projects most suitable for their environment.

This focus on exemplary practices is a key part of SciStarter’s leadership in the newly-formed Citizen Science Association (CSA).  SciStarter and the CSA are working together to align 500 citizen science projects with Science and Engineering Practices.   The CSA will highlight exemplary practices and support the integration of STEM learning objectives within citizen science projects. To further promote integration of citizen science with STEM learning, the CSA will create a way to nominate outstanding examples of projects or resources that support citizen science for STEM learning. Exemplar projects will be highlighted on both the Citizen Science Association website and SciStarter. With support from the National Science Foundation, the CSA is being shaped by the input of over 60 Association members.

 The White House called attention to these important SciStarter citizen science initiatives through the White House Science Fair Fact Sheet distributed today.

 

About SciStarter

SciStarter aims to enable people to contribute to science through informal recreational activities and formal research efforts. The web site creates a shared space where scientists can connect with citizens interested in working on or learning about joint research projects. SciStarter currently features 1,000 searchable citizen science projects and recruits participants through partnerships with Discover Magazine, the National Science Teachers Association, Public Library of Science, WHYY/NPR, Pop Warner Youth Scholars, and more.

 

 

Categories: Citizen Science

Journey North: Tracking the Stories of Survival with Citizen Science

By Ian Vorster March 22nd, 2015 at 9:00 am | Comment

Image 3

A group of Gray Whales Count volunteers count gray whales at Coal Oil Point in Santa Barbara. (ianvorsterphotography.com)

 

It was a crisp morning following a cold night in Goleta’s Coronado Monarch Butterfly Preserve. As Luke crossed a beam that had been dropped across a swampy area, he looked up at the Eucalyptus grove and sighed quietly. “Where are the butterflies Dad,” he asked me—with one part expectation and one part disappointment.

Read the rest of this entry »

“What’s in store for citizen scientists this spring,” WHYY’s The Pulse

By Darlene Cavalier March 20th, 2015 at 1:24 pm | Comment

Credit: Sarah Newman

Credit: Sarah Newman

As part of SciStarter’s regular radio series with WHYY’s The Pulse, we highlight new developments in citizen science and a few projects ripe for spring!

As the weather starts warming up and we all begin shedding our thick, winter coats, a crop of new citizen science projects are enticing us to get outdoors in the name of science.

Darlene Cavalier, founder of the citizen science website SciStarter and regular Pulse contributor, says a top project this spring involves paying attention to phenology, or the life cycle changes of plants and animals.

“This might be changes in the nesting habits of birds, certainly in the leafing cycle of plants near you and, specifically, looking at the timing that your lilacs bloom and when they die,” says Cavalier.

All of that information is connected in the sense that birds tend to time their nesting habits to when insects will likely be around to feed their baby birds. And those insects are dependent on certain plants to be around to survive.

Cavalier says the information that’s collected through this phenology project will eventually help inform climate assessment acts in the U.S.

As part of the Philadelphia Science Festival in April, the SciStarter crew will be at the Schuylkill Nature Center in Roxborough to get people involved in the Zombee Watch project.

“We have zombie flies that actually infect honeybees and we’ll tell you how to look for that,” says Cavalier. “It’s pretty disgusting and it’s also eerily attractive for some reason.”

But Cavalier says not all scientific research has to happen outdoors.

Read the rest of this post and listen to the radio segment.