Archive for the ‘Science Education’ Category
goal: Help seismologists detect and warn of earthquakes.
task: Do a 1 minute cheer with your class and measure the shaking of your classroom.
Join the Big Cheer for Science and Engineering on April 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm ET, presented by SciStarter, Science Cheerleader, the USGS, the Iris Consortium, Discover Magazine and the USA Science and Engineering Festival. Anchored at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC, this one minute cheer will include plenty of stomping and shaking in an effort to get kids jazzed about science AND measure seismic activity caused by their cheer! By downloading the free software as instructed, your classroom can become part of a national network to help researchers at the USGS detect future earthquakes!
In Washington, DC, dozens of Science Cheerleaders (scientists and engineers–who also happen to be cheerleaders for the Redskins, Wizards and Ravens among other NFL and NBA teams) will lead a one minute cheer for science with 10,000 students at the DC Convention center. While they’re doing the cheer in DC, hundreds of schools across the country will do the same cheer at the same time. In fact, Mayor Nutter will lead the Big Cheer in Philadelphia and several Science Cheerleaders will be in local schools to lead the cheer.
During the cheer, you can have your students record your local ground movement and share it with other participating schools for comparison. Comparisons can be further made to how much the ground shakes during the Big Cheer at the Washington D.C. Convention Center and in your classroom and to how much it shakes during an actual earthquake.
To measure the shaking of your Big Cheer, all you need is a smart phone, a Mac or IBM Thinkpad laptop, or one of the Quake Catch Network sensors that connects to a computer’s USB port. Each of these devices has an accelerometer inside that can record ground motion in three dimensions. The software is simple to download and install.
Learn more and get started here on the Big Cheer for Science project page!
The Carolina Wren nest in David Gessner’s writing shack. Read about how they left the nest in his blog.
When, this spring, writer David Gessner found that a nest of Carolina Wrens had taken up residence in the backyard shack where he writes about all things nature, he started posting status updates about the birds on Facebook and describing their progress on his blog. When did the eggs hatch? What do the chicks look like? There are so many questions to be answered.
I asked him if, in addition to being an on-the-ground bird reporter, he was also citizen scientist. He could contribute his observations of the nest to NestWatch, I suggested, a project that gets people all over the country to spy on the nesting birds in their backyards and report their observations. One person’s wren stories are another person’s wren data. It’s a different lens on nature. And many citizen science projects are relying on the observations of individuals to help us understand the seasonal timing of birds, plants, insects, and other creatures.
Gessner’s response was that he was more of a citizen amateur naturalist than a citizen scientist. Perhaps this was self-deprecation. Perhaps it was a way of telling me that he has quite enough on his plate. But it also made me wonder how people think about nature and how they think about science – how they envision a naturalist and how they envision a scientist.
Imagine someone who is exploring nature. Are they wearing a backpack and hiking boots? Are they roaming the great outdoors? Now imagine someone exploring science. Are they wearing a lab coat and glasses? Are they in a chemistry lab or a room full of computers? Have they been indoors so long that their eyes squint at the light of day? These are stereotypes. Sometimes they fit. Often they don’t.
Fall Birds Series, Flying Birds, by Warner Varno
Yet scientists look at nature. Nature and science are one and the same for scientists who study natural things like the atmosphere, ocean, geology, and living things. The journal Nature is about the science, for example. At NCAR, scientists make models of the planet – simulations of nature on supercomputers that help us understand how nature works. These simulations help us better understand how it might be affected by changes in climate, drought, or other events. Using the model they create to simulate nature, we can answer questions about the planet that begin “What would happen if…” That’s one way of looking at nature.
Artists have other ways of looking at nature. From realistic scientific illustrations to abstract sculptures, nature is a theme of art from all times periods and cultures. Warner Varno, an artist friend of mine, is organizing an exhibit of bird paintings this spring in Denver. I told Warner that I would bring binoculars and my Audubon field guide to the opening so that I could be a birdwatcher in the art gallery, playing the role of scientist and/or naturalist in the realm of art. I was joking, of course, but I do wonder if anyone in an art gallery filled with birds will be seeing science within the art.
So let’s review:
- David is blogging about spring birds,
- NestWatch is studying the science of spring birds,
- Warner is exhibiting art about spring birds,
- And I am planning to birdwatch in an art gallery.
We are all exploring nature, just in different ways.
Japan Birds, Sentinel, by Warner Varno
Warner liked the idea of binoculars. They allow people to see things differently. And it seems that we always look at nature through different lenses, making the study of nature intrinsically interdisciplinary. Uniting how nature is involved with science, art, storytelling and other ways of seeing brings in more perspectives and engages more people.
At Spark: UCAR Science Education we are working with EcoArts Connections to bring art together with weather and climate science. Stay tuned for interesting new Spark projects in the coming year that connect science and art and nature. Until then, enjoy the spring birds and take a look at nature through a lens that is not your usual.
This post was origionally published on the SparkBlog by Lisa Gardiner.
A Conference on Public Participation in Scientific Research (PPSR) will be held in Portland, Oregon on August 4th and 5th, 2012. This landmark event will convene science researchers, project leaders, educators, technology specialists, evaluators, and others from across many disciplines (including astronomy, molecular biology, human and environmental health, and ecology) to discuss advancing the field of PPSR.
The PPSR Conference is being held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA), a venue that has long been supportive of citizen science and that always welcomes practitioners from diverse fields. PPSR Conference attendees may be interested in staying in Portland to attend – or even give a talk or poster at – the ESA conference that runs August 6th -10th.
More details about the PPSR Conference are available at CitizenScience.org/conference/2012, including the agenda, information on a forthcoming call for posters, and a poll for an early headcount.
From searching for invertebrates to measuring wind speed, everyone can gain new knowledge and skills and play their part in protecting the natural environment. This is the philosophy of Open Air Laboratories (OPAL), a project based in England that encourages the public to explore their surroundings, record their findings, and submit their results to the OPAL national database making their contribution available to scientists and others involved in environmental science and policy.
OPAL has created six surveys that the public can use to collect data and all are important areas of research:
Each one of these surveys has been designed so that anyone can use them – no specialist knowledge is needed to take part and equipment is either provided or is easy to make or find. The instructions are simple to follow and each survey contains a ‘workbook’ for recording results. Once people have completed their survey, they upload their results onto the OPAL website or send them by post.
Here’s your chance to help bring citizen science to the classroom — and win a little recognition in the process!
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is asking people to send in their best experiments for kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms. After you submit your experiments, a panel of classroom teachers, students, scientists, and NIH science education personnel will score all the entries and select winners. If you’re among the winning participants, you’ll earn recognition and an official, exclusive, electronic NIH Lab Challenge badge that you can display online.
The best part is that the experiments will be made available to the general public, so classrooms across the world can benefit from your ideas. To get started, take a look at our list of great citizen science projects.
Have you submitted anything to NIH Lab Challenge? Let us know your ideas in the comment section!
As summer comes to a close, a young person’s fancy may turn to fretting at the thought of being cooped up in a classroom. But for fans of science and nature—and by that we mean kids who like to watch clouds, hunt mushrooms, prowl around graveyards, and check out what gets squashed on the side of the road—fall need not signal the end of fun.
To keep young minds entertained as well as enlightened, we recommend the following 10 back-to-school projects for student citizen scientists. Teachers and parents, please note: Many of these programs provide materials around which you can build lessons. And there are lots more where these came from. Visit our Project Finder for a full list of citizen science projects for primary and secondary school students.
World Water Monitoring Day: World Water Monitoring Day is an international program that encourages citizen volunteers to monitor their local water bodies. An easy-to-use test kit enables everyone from children to adults to sample local water bodies for basic water quality parameters: temperature, acidity (pH), clarity (turbidity), and dissolved oxygen. Though World Water Monitoring Day is officially celebrated on September 18, the monitoring window is extended to cover the period from March 22 (World Water Day) until December 31. Check out what one of our members said about the project.
School of Ants: Join North Carolina State University researchers in a citizen-scientist driven study of the ants that live in urban areas, particularly around homes and schools. Collection kits are available to anyone interested in participating. Teachers, students, parents, kids, junior-scientists, senior citizens and enthusiasts of all stripes are involved in collecting ants in schoolyards and backyards using a standardized protocol so that project coordinators can make detailed maps of the wildlife that lives just outside their doorsteps.
The Albedo Project: Wherever you are – anywhere in the world – on September 23th, contribute to science by taking a photo of a blank white piece of paper, outside in the sun, between 4:00 and 7:00 pm local time. Your photo will used to to help students measure how much of the sun’s energy is reflected back from the Earth — our planet’s “albedo.” It’s one way scientists can monitor how much energy – and heat – is being absorbed by our planet.
Students’ Cloud Observations On-Line (S’COOL): Report your observations of clouds—their shapes, height, coverage, and related conditions—so that NASA scientists can compare them with data from weather satellites passing over your area. Tutorials and observing guides are available for students. For teachers, the program provides lesson plans, charts, and advice on related educational standards.
Physics Songs: Physics Songs aims to be the world’s premier website devoted to collecting and organizing all songs about physics. It is managed by Walter F. Smith, Professor of Physics at Haverford College. Songs about physics can help students to remember critical concepts and formulas, but perhaps more importantly they communicate the lesson that physics can be fun.
Meet the Science Cheerleaders. This team of more than 100 NFL and NBA cheerleaders-turned-scientists and engineers is ready to cheer for citizen science. ScienceCheerleader.com, our sister-site, aims to inspire the 3 million little cheerleaders in the U.S. to consider careers in science and engineering, while playfully challenge stereotypes and encouraging participation in any of the more than 400 citizen science projects featured on ScienceForCitizens.net .
The Science Cheerleaders have been featured on CNN, NPR, ESPN, The Scientist, Nature, Science, Discover and more. They are supported by the National Science Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and others eager to draw more women and minorities to the field of science. They travel the country spreading the gospel of science and citizen science!
Next stop: Vegas. On Saturday, September 10th, 1pm, in Las Vegas, NV, right at the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign! That’s right, VEGAS! Home of our favorite Vegas science super stars, Penn & Teller. Below, you can a cheeky video the Science Cheerleader did with Penn & Teller.
Sara Fitzsimmons is the Regional Science Coordinator at The American Chestnut Foundation
The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to restoring the American chestnut (Castanea dentate) to its original range. Once estimated to be 25% of the Appalachian forests, the species was all but eliminated from the landscape by an imported fungal disease caused by Cryphonectria parasitica, the chestnut blight fungus.
Since 1983, TACF has been working with volunteers and citizen scientists to breed disease-resistant trees and return them to the landscape. The program involves a minimum of six breeding generations, each of which requires labor-intensive controlled pollination to make the seed, and about 5-10 years to grow the trees and properly select them. To work through the entire breeding pipeline, then, takes a large amount of resources, and about 35 – 60 years!
A program such as this would not be possible without the many hands, minds, and legs of citizen scientists. TACF volunteers come from a wide variety of backgrounds – from salesmen to engineers, farmers to doctors and teachers – all of whom can bring a unique perspective to the program and enhance TACF’s work in a multitude of ways.
Over the past 25+ years, 1000s of volunteers have bred various generations of trees and grown tens of thousands of trees on their land. While breeding is the backbone of TACFs work, and there is continued need for more growers, citizen scientists have not only participated in, but also initiated, some unique programs.
This post was originally published on Citizen Science Buzz, a blog on TalkingScience that highlights science projects that are helping us better understand our planet and the Universe.
During the last Ice Age, mammoths and mastodons roamed Florida. Today, fossil hunters like James Kennedy of Vero Beach, Florida find their bones.
“I’m not a scientist,” said James in a recent interview for National Public Radio. “I just go out and dig up bones good. I’m good at finding them.”
But I’d contend that James is a scientist – a citizen scientist.
Many people collect fossils. I like to think of these fossil hunters as “citizen paleontologists” and they can play important roles in scientific discovery.
For example, one of the bones James collected is more than just a fossil. It’s also prehistoric art. An image of a mammoth is engraved on the bone. Scientists estimate that the engraving was made at least 13,000 years ago. It’s an important clue to how humans lived at the time.
Several research projects are combining the skills and interests of citizen paleontologists with those of scientists in order to help us understand more about earth’s history and evolution. Here are a few examples of projects that are getting citizens and researchers working together and leading to scientific discoveries.
This summer, high in the Rocky Mountains, not far from the town of Aspen, Colorado, local teachers and college students worked side-by-side dozens of scientists and museum staff to uncover a multitude of fossils of Ice Age animals like mastodons out of the rock. The project scientists got much needed help with the dig. The volunteers got real‐world experience with the science happening right in their own backyard.
On Tuesday, July 26 at 9pm ET, The Weather Channel will air the “Changing Planet” Town Hall focused on clean energy and green jobs. Science for Citizens is a partner in this three-part series.
Here’s more information from NBC News:
This town hall broadcast is the second in a 3-part series that brings together scientists, thought leaders and students for a discussion on the issues of climate science.
The Weather Channel announced that it will air a “Changing Planet: Clean Energy, Green Jobs, and Global Competition” on Tuesday, July 26th at 9 PM/ET. NBC News Chief Environmental Affairs Correspondent Anne Thompson moderated the event, which was hosted by George Washington University. The town hall meeting is the second in a three-part series produced under a partnership between NBC Learn (the educational arm of NBC News), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Discover magazine.
The “Changing Planet” town hall series is intended to encourage student learning and to open a dialogue about climate change by gathering scientists, thought leaders, business people, and university students to discuss the facts of climate science, understand their implications, brainstorm solutions and even get involved in real research through citizen science projects on ScienceForCitizens.net.
“Today’s technology allows us to think about new energy options that impact the planet less and help the economy more,” said Thompson. “It is critical that we have these important discussions about how clean energy and the economy can go hand in hand, in order to bring the best solutions to the spotlight.”
This edition of “Changing Planet” brings together over 100 students and features four leading experts from the science and business communities: Chris Busch, Director of Policy and Program at Apollo Alliance; Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Chief Executive Officer of Green For All; Timothy Juliani, Director of Corporate Engagement at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change; and Ken Zweibel, Director at the GW Solar Institute.