Author Archive

Are you ready for some citizen science at the 76ers on 2/18!?

By January 31st, 2014 at 9:18 am | Comment

Science Cheerleaders to Visit the Philadelphia 76ers on February 18, 2014.
NBA 76ers game to feature interactive science exhibits on the concourse, halftime performance by the Science Cheerleaders, in-game citizen science project for research on the International Space Station.

image001-1-500x666

PHILADELPHIA, Penn. (January 30, 2014) – Get ready for an explosion of science at the Philadelphia 76ers game on February 18. Science Cheerleader announces “Science at the Sixers,” taking place when the Sixers host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, February 18, at the Wells Fargo Center. 76ers fans can participate in several fun activities during this in-game event to celebrate and increase student and adult interest in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

The events are coordinated by “Science Cheerleader,” an organization of more than 250 current and former NBA and NFL cheerleaders pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math. They playfully challenge stereotypes, inspire kids to consider careers in science and technology, and encourage everyday people to get involved in real science activities through citizen science projects at SciStarter.com. Science Cheerleader was founded by Darlene Cavalier, a former member of the Sixers Dream Team.

Science at the Sixers Activities

Game time: February 18, 7:00 pm at Wells Fargo Center (3601 Broad St., Philadelphia, PA)

Citizen Science on the Concourse: Engage with a dozen of the region’s most exciting research projects in need of your help. Interact with robots and sports-themed innovations developed by hometown scientists. 6:00pm pregame through halftime

Halftime performance by the Science Cheerleaders with special guest Buddy from The Franklin Institute

Catch a shirt and a microbe kit from the NBA’s most powerful t-shirt launcher and help with microbe sampling. Attendees will contribute to a citizen science research project on the International Space Station (Read about Project MERCCURI below)

Interactive Science Quiz on the JumboTron

50/50 Raffle to benefit the Philadelphia Education Fund and reward our Sixers Hometown Hero Award Recipient and Science Educator, Ambra Hook
Sneak Peak at what’s in store for the Philadelphia Science Festival this Spring!

To purchase discount tickets for this game, go towww.nba.com/sixers/promocode and enter SCIENCE.

Project MERCCURI: Comparing Microbes from Philly to Those in Space
During the game, fans will have the opportunity to participate in Project MERCCURI, a citizen science research project to compare microbes on Earth to those on the International Space Station. Microbe collection kits wrapped in T-shirts will be shot into the stands during a time out. Fans will use the kits at the game to swab their shoes and cell phones to collect microbes. Those samples will be sent to Argonne National Laboratory to be sequenced and added to the Earth Microbiome Project.

Meanwhile, astronauts at the International Space Station will be conducting tests on 48 microbes collected previously from Earth, including EIGHT from Philadelphia: the Liberty Bell, The Franklin Institute, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, WHYY, St. Joseph’s Preparatory School, Phillies stadium, 76ers stadium, and the Academy of Natural Sciences where microbes were collected by St. Peter’s School students. Representatives from these organizations are scheduled to participate in the Science on the Concourse Expo at the 76ers game on 2/18! Learn more about the significance of these Philly microbes here!

Scientists from UC Davis and NASA hope to gain insights into what is living at the ISS, how microbes vary from different places on Earth and in space, and to compare growth of microbes on Earth and in microgravity. See http://www.spacemicrobes.org for more information about this important and fascinating research.

Supporters of Science at the Sixers
Partnering organizations include The Franklin Institute, the Philadelphia Education Fund, SciStarter, and Science Cheerleader. Project MERCCURI is coordinated by Science Cheerleader, SciStarter, and UC Davis, in conjunction with the Argonne National Laboratory. The Project is made possible by Space Florida, NanoRacks, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Image: NBA

This post originally appeared on the Science Cheerleader blog.

Categories: Citizen Science

Liberty and Science for All: Project MERCCURI press release

By January 31st, 2014 at 8:52 am | Comment

Darlene Cavalier, founder of SciStarter, swabs the Liberty Bell for microbes in Philadelphia.

Darlene Cavalier, founder of SciStarter, swabs the Liberty Bell for microbes in Philadelphia.

Thanks to the Independence National Historical Park for giving me access to the Liberty Bell. I had a lot of fun collecting microbes from this national treasure in my hometown!

Happy to announce that the microbes from the Liberty Bell have been selected to fly on the International Space Station where their growth rates will be analyzed and compared to their counterparts back at the UC Davis lab! We will be announcing each selected microbe over the course of the next two weeks, with Philly first.

This research is part of Project MERCCURI, a citizen science project from UC Davis, Science Cheerleader and SciStarter, to examine the diversity of microbes on Earth and on the International Space Station.

Check out this particular microbe’s very own trading card! Here’s an excerpt:

Where we found it: On the Liberty Bell (Philadelphia, PA)

Why it’s awesome: This is an important industrial organism, used for the production of penicillin, vitamins, various drugs, and numerous enzymes

Fun fact: The species name of this microbe means “big beast” and it is among the largest bacteria ever discovered

In addition to the microbes from the Liberty Bell, six other microbes from Philadelphia were selected by UC Davis researchers to blast into space for research at the International Space Station. Here are links to images and more information about the microbes collected from the following sites in Philadelphia and selected to fly on the International Space Station:

Chemical Heritage Foundation
Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia 76ers
The Franklin Institute
The Academy of Natural Sciences (microbes collected by St. Peter’s School students)
St. Joseph’s Preparatory School
WHYY studio

A total of 48 samples were selected from across the country.

Here’s more information about this project:

Davis, CA. (Jan. 30, 2014) — Microbes collected from Philadelphia landmarks will soon blast into orbit for research and a microgravity growth competition on the International Space Station (ISS). This citizen science project, known as Project MERCCURI, investigates how microbes from different places on Earth compare to each other and to those found on the International Space Station.

Led by the Science Cheerleaders (current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders pursuing science and technology careers), thousands of people across the United States participated in the project. Several Pop Warner cheer teams swabbed practice fields, shoes, and cell phones for microbes. Other people collected microbial samples at NFL, NBA, and MLB stadiums; from schools; from landmarks like the Liberty Bell, Sue the T-Rex, the statue of Ben Franklin in Philadelphia, and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum; and during events including Yuri’s Nights, a series of gatherings across the country to commemorate the first human in space.

The microbes they gathered were examined by the “microbiology team” in the laboratory of Dr. Jonathan Eisen at the University of California at Davis. The team selected 48 microbes (SEVEN of which are from Philadelphia!), which, with approval from NASA, are to ride the SpaceX Falcon 9 to the Space Station for further research. The rocket is scheduled to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in early March.

The public will be able to follow Project MERCCURI as it continues over the next several months via the web site SpaceMicrobes.org. The site will include updates from the research on the Space Station including results of the “microbial playoffs” growth competition. The site also features free interactive visualization tools, lesson plans for teachers, and even trading cards that include photos and the details of each microbe selected for the project, as well as their importance.

In addition to the research in space, thousands of additional samples collected by the public are being analyzed further at UC Davis and by the lab of Dr. Jack Gilbert at Argonne National Laboratory. The microbes found in these samples are being assayed using DNA sequencing technology, and the resulting data will be made available to the public and also integrated with results of the Earth Microbiome Project. Scientists hope to gain insights into what is living at the ISS, how microbes vary between different places on Earth and in space, and to compare growth of microbes on Earth and in microgravity. Philadelphia 76ers fans will have the opportunity to participate in this part of the research during Science at the Sixers night on 2/18 when the 76ers host the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“We are in the midst of a revolution in our ability to study the hidden world of microbes found throughout the planet,” said Jonathan Eisen, Professor at UC Davis and leader of the microBEnet (microbiology of the built environment network) team doing the microbiology side of Project MERCCURI. “One area of growing interest is in studying the microbes living right around us – in our buildings – on our phones – and elsewhere. The Science Cheerleader group has allowed us to get thousands of people to not only think more about the microbes among us, but to also participate in a microbial diversity research project. And those people have helped us get more samples than we have been able to obtain previously.”

“A lot of people ask us *why* we’re sending microbes into space,” said Dr. David Coil, a microbiologist at UC Davis. “Understanding how microbes behave in microgravity is critically important for planning long-term manned spaceflight but also has the possibility of giving us new insight into how these microbes behave in built environments on Earth.”

“This initiative is not just about significant research,” said Darlene Cavalier, a former 76ers cheerleader and Founder of Science Cheerleader and SciStarter, both based in Philadelphia. “It’s about engaging the public in that research. Microbes that were collected at Georgia Tech are taking a ride on the International Space Station. They’re the subject of research by microbiologists and astronauts. We hope that inspires youngsters as well as adults to become more aware of and involved in science.”

Project MERCCURI is coordinated by Science Cheerleader, SciStarter.com, and UC Davis, in conjunction with the Argonne National Laboratory. The Project is made possible by Space Florida, NanoRacks, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

###

Note to editors: To arrange interviews with the research team at UC Davis, members of the Science Cheerleader or SciStarter teams, or with local groups that participated in collecting the microbes, please email Claire LaBeaux, claire@prclaire.com.

Image: Courtey of Darlene Cavalier

This post originally appeared on the Science Cheerleader blog.

Citizen Science makes Discover Magazine’s “Top 100 Science Stories of 2013″

By December 11th, 2013 at 9:26 am | Comment

discover magazine citizen science scistarter
Discover Magazine, reaching more than 6 million readers, features citizen science in its January/February combined issue available on newsstands now.

Coming in at number 76, the citizen science article features key citizen science developments from 2013 including those from Public Lab, CrowdCrafting, Cell Slider and Eye Wire. The article, “Science For the People, By the People,” was written by Discover Magazine’s contributor and director of special projects, Darlene Cavalier. Cavalier is also the founder of SciStarter, a Discover Magazine partner.

SciStarter and WHYY (NPR affiliate) to report on citizen science projects and participants.

By October 24th, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Comment

whyy_blue1 Lend us your ears! Citizen science is coming to the radio.

The Pulse,” WHYY’s weekly one-hour radio program focused on health, science and innovation in the Philadelphia region, will launch on Friday, Dec. 6. The show will explore the personal stories of illness and recovery, discovery, health and science trends and much more. Working with SciStarter’s founder, Darlene Cavalier, the show will also take a close look at citizen science initiatives in the PA, NJ, DE region and report out on which projects are gaining the most traction and yielding effective results. WHYY’s Behavioral Health Reporter, Maiken Scott, will host the program every Friday at 9 a.m. with a rebroadcast on Sunday mornings. Here’s where to listen:

WHYY’s Friday morning schedule (come Dec. 6th):

6-9 a.m. – Morning Edition
9-10 a.m. – The Pulse
10 a.m. to 12 p.m. – Radio Times

Here’s where you can help. If you’re a project manager, volunteer, or participant in a citizen science project in the PA, NJ, or DE areas, we want to hear from you! If you have an interesting story to share about a citizen science project or experience, let us know. Send your stories for consideration to Lily@SciStarter.com.

Project MERCCURI citizen science update

By August 15th, 2013 at 11:26 am | Comment

This piece was originally posted on Science Cheerleader.

Project Update:

Project MERCCURI is a collaboration of the UC Davis microBEnet with the Science Cheerleaders, UC Davis, Space Florida, Nanoracks, and SciStarter. There are three components to this research project:

1) Space Station Microbiome. Collecting microbial swab samples from the International Space Station (ISS) and examining the microbial communities therein (via 16S sequencing)

2) Swabbing Sports and Space Events. Collecting swab samples around the country at sporting and other public events from cell phones, shoes, and various surfaces (e.g. keyboards, screens, railings etc.) These will be used for comparison to the ISS samples and for a look at microbial biogeography across a national scale. In collaboration with Jack Gilbert at the Earth Microbiome Project and the Science Cheerleaders who will be organizing and leading the sampling events.

3) Microbial Playoffs. A microbial growth competition on the ISS. A subset of samples collected at public events will be cultured at UC Davis and the “best” microbe from each environment will be sent to the ISS for a “microbial playoffs” competition. A duplicate of this experiment will be conducted on earth and the results compared. Details here.

We are on target to collect 4,000 microbe samples from shoes and cell phones and another 40 from cool surfaces in distinct locations/venues including several NFL, NBA and MLB stadiums.

AZ Cardinals Project MERCCURI citizen science science cheerleader

AZ Cardinals cheerleader participates in Project MERCCURI

We had several great events across the country including one at a San Antonio Spurs game in connection to the National Science Teachers Association’s annual conference and another at a Phillies game! Microbes from shoes and cellphones have come from the AZ Cardinals cheerleaders (special thanks to the folks at the AZ Science Festival for their help!), the NE Patriots cheerleaders, San Francisco 49ers cheerleaders and more. Other participating teams include the Orlando Magic, Tennessee Titans, Sacramento Kings, and Philadelphia 76ers, with more to follow!


Project MERCCURI citizen science scistarter science cheerleader Pop Warner

Pop Warner Coastal Bengals cheerleader swabs microbes from shoe.

Pop Warner Little Scholars is activating Project MERCCURI as a kick off event at their opening games this month and we’re reserving a spot on the Space Station for one of their samples!


Project MERCCURI Science Cheerleader Talmesha Washington Redskins Yuris Night Smithsonian

Talmesha (former captain of the Washington Redskins cheerleaders, PhD Biomedical Engineering) leads Project MERCCURI activity during a Yuri’s Night celebration at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

We partnered with Yuri’s Night and Teachers in Space and have reserved at least one space on the ISS for samples collected by our various partners at events across the country. Plus….many schools are involved and we’re creating educational materials to help teachers engage their students in the research outcomes throughout the year.


Stay tuned for news about:

  • Upcoming “Science at the 76ers night” tied to Project MERCCURI in early November (we even hope to shoot microbe sampling kits out of their huge T-shirt bazooka, right into the stands!).
  • Bay Area Science Festival collaboration we hope to link to an activity at the Oakland Raiders game on 11/3. Science Cheerleader Wendy Brown, a lead PI earning her PhD from UC Davis, is a cheerleader for the Raiders!
  • Launch celebration! Forty microbe samples will be sent to the International Space Station on the Space X rocket, scheduled to launch this winter. We plan to tie this into a game day activity with the Orlando Magic, conveniently located near Kennedy Space Center where the launch will take place. Looking forward to meeting the leaders at Space Florida and NanoRacks there. They made all of this possible!
  • Announcement of the winners of the “microbial playoffs on the ISS” during an Atlanta Hawks game in late March, tied to the Atlanta Science Festival.

Follow this and more at www.spacemicrobes.org or #spacemicrobes @scistarter @scicheer on Twitter. Get involved!

Categories: Citizen Science