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.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Citizen Science Hackfest on 2/11 at the Citizen Science Association’s conference in San Jose, CA! This hands-on and discussion-driven meet-up was a wonderful opportunity for participants to dream up AND build creative tools to improve the field of citizen science! .
Once we settled into our digs (conveniently situated between the bar and food!) and after our ears adjusted to the noise around us, Arvind Suresh (SciStarter’s managing editor) kicked things off with introductions and each project owner pitched their ideas.
Steve Gano, our director of product development at SciStarter, organized the pitches into themes.
We divided the projects into four groups:
1) Platform Interoperability. This team worked on what is needed to better support online data management for citizen science projects . There’s so much work to be explored here. Contact Greg Newman (Gregory.Newman at ColoState dot Edu) if you’d like to join the ongoing dialogue.
2) Participant experience: finding projects, submitting and sharing individual points of data. We brainstormed ways to help researchers (biologists, in particular) subscribe to fresh data alerts for their species and regions of interest from many (wildlife observation) citizen science platforms, and enable observers on those platforms to be notified if their observation was sent to someone. We also discussed the development of a simple, accurate representation of a project’s geographic area of interest which is important not only for validating the contributed data, but also for finding and recruiting potential participants who live or visit the area of interest and may be able to contribute. We’ve decided to continue these discussions and if you’d like to join us, email email@example.com to indicate your interest.
3) Prototyping a data collection app. S. Andrew Sheppard and Teal Wyckoff worked on Species Tracker, a concept for a mobile app for biodiversity monitoring, inspired by the WyoBio project. They used the wq framework to create a simple prototype that allows anyone to upload photos and GPS coordinates together with species information. The prototype and source code are available online at species.wq.io.
4) Updating Wikipedia definition of Citizen Science: Between 80-90% of Wikipedia editors are male, so Dr. Caren Cooper, particularly wanted to encourage women to participate. One concern raised at the hackfest was that there’s not much oversight on who can edit someone else’s contribution so it’s a frustrating experience when someone puts time and energy into a thoughtful definition only to have it wiped out and replaced by more self-serving definitions. Contact Caren Cooper at Caren.Cooper at naturalsciences dot org to get involved in this effort.
As these projects progress, we’ll post updates here.
Special thanks to @MarDixon for providing early guidance and support! She’s a pro at this…and she’s my sister!
SAN JOSE, CA – A global audience is gathering this week, intent on changing the way science is done. Over 600 people from 25 countries will convene February 11 and 12, 2015, at the San Jose Convention Center for “Citizen Science 2015,” the inaugural conference of the Citizen Science Association (CSA).
In citizen science, members of the public participate in real scientific research. To date, participants in this rapidly expanding field have made significant contributions to the study of neurobiology, astronomy, ornithology, genetics, psychology, linguistics, and many other disciplines. At the same time, public knowledge and insights have helped bridge research and action in arenas such as environmental justice, public health, conservation, and engineering.
Dr. Alan Leshner, CEO of AAAS, comments: “AAAS is pleased that the Citizen Science Association is hosting their first conference near the 2015 AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose. Our meeting offers scientist-citizens many ways to engage with public audiences; the Citizen Science Association offers additional strategies for scientist-citizens and citizen-scientists to connect in meaningful ways.”
In brief, citizen science stands to transform scientific research. To ensure integrity as it does, Citizen Science 2015 brings together scientists, volunteers, data managers, educators, and many others to addresses the frontiers, innovations, and challenges that are common across the diverse disciplines using this research approach. Over 350 talks and posters will address, among other things, data management and visualization, STEM education, novel technologies, industry partnerships, and strategies for addressing issues of ethics and inclusivity in participation. Sessions include:
KEYNOTE: A Place in the World–Science, Society, and Reframing the Questions We Ask. (Dr. Chris Filardi – Director, Pacific Programs, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History)
KEYNOTE: EyeWire: Why Do Gamers Enjoy Mapping the Brain? (Amy Robinson – Executive Director, EyeWire)
WORKSHOP AND OPEN SESSION: Developing a Framework for Citizen Science in STEM Education (Citizen Science Association Education Working Group, supported by the National Science Foundation; Session Chair Sarah Kirn, Gulf of Maine Research Institute)
PANEL: Biomedical Citizen Science: Emerging Opportunities and Unique Challenges (National Institutes of Health Citizen Science Working Group; Session Chair Dr. Jennifer Couch, National Cancer Institute)
SYMPOSIUM: Using a Citizen Science Approach to Change the Face of Environmental Public Health Research (Session Chair: Dr. Monica Ramirez-Andreotta, University of Arizona)
PANEL: Creating a Welcoming, Inclusive, Diverse, and Just Citizen Science Association (Session Chair: Tim Vargo, Urban Ecology Center)
SYMPOSIUM: Supporting Multi-Scale Citizen Science: Leveraging the Local, Addressing the Global (Session Chair: Mark Chandler, Earthwatch Institute)
Additional conference activities include a poster session and reception, a hackfest, and a BioBlitz of downtown San Jose.
This event is an official pre-conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting. Conference supporters include the National Science Foundation, National Geographic, and others.
For more information: please visit http://www.citizenscienceassociation.org/conference/
Conference blog: http://citizenscienceassociation.org/category/conference/citsci2015/
Follow us on Twitter: @CitSciAssoc and #CitSci2015
Additional contacts from the CSA Board of Directors:
Rick Bonney, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, firstname.lastname@example.org
Darlene Cavalier, Arizona State University, email@example.com
Mary Ford, National Geographic, firstname.lastname@example.org
Muki Haklay, University College London, email@example.com
Greg Newman, Colorado State University, Gregory.Newman@colostate.edu
Contact: Jennifer Shirk, CSA Communications Coordinator (additional contacts below)
Propose or join a project or activity for the SciStarter Hackfest at the Citizen Science Association Conference!
What: A hands-on and discussion-driven meet-up where everyone participates in dreaming up AND building creative tools to improve the field of citizen science!
Where: Citizen Science 2015 Conference, San Jose, CA
Who: The SciStarter team and YOU!
Why: To capitalize on the collective wisdom (and desire to act!) at the Citizen Science Association Conference
The inaugural conference of the Citizen Science Association will take place February 11-12 in San Jose, California and the SciStarter team is looking forward to soaking up new information during the scheduled sessions and talks!
We’ll also contribute to these conversations through a few presentations and an interactive, “roll-up-your-sleeves!” hackfest designed for everyone.
Will you join us? Learn more about SciStarter’s past Hackfests here.
First, make sure you have registered for the Citizen Science 2015 Conference if you want to participate in person. You can join us remotely, too. Just let us know how you plan to participate when you sign up.
Then, fill out this form to let us know you’re coming so we know how many people to expect. Remember, ALL contributions are valuable, and some projects may be discussion-based (no programming skills required). All projects should spark the start of something great! Just bring your creativity, enthusiasm and talents and we’ll make sure you’ll have fun!
Do you have a Hackfest idea or project you’d like people to know about or join at the event? Great!
Here’s the running list of proposed projects! Just click on the image to learn more about the proposed project.
1. Agile Citizen Science
Join this group to participate in a brainstorm session to generate ideas and examples of possible agile citizen science projects and of the design features for a digital platform that would support those projects. Click to learn more.
2. Locating Citizen Science Activity
Having a simple, accurate representation of a project’s geographic area of interest is important not only for validating the contributed data, but also for finding and recruiting potential participants who live or visit the area of interest and may be able to contribute. Click to learn more.
3. Update Wikipedia Entry for Citizen Science
4. Fresh Data/Notify Me!
We want to help biologists subscribe to fresh data alerts for their species and regions of interest from many (wildlife observation) citizen science platforms, and enable observers on those platforms to be notified if their observation was sent to someone. Click to learn more.
5. Hackfest for the world’s biggest fish!
6. Citizen Science Web Platform Needs Activity
Help those who develop citizen science web platforms / websites design and create better solutions for your needs. Come to this brainstorm session to offer your insights into what is needed to better support online data management for citizen science projects. Click to learn more.