Archive for the ‘Syndicated’ Category
This is a webinar opportunity from our friends at CitSci.org. Details below!
Greetings from CitSci.org! We are pleased to announce our December “Feature Friday” webinar where you, as members of the growing CitSci.org community, are invited to offer your ideas and thoughts about improvements to CitSci.org. The first Friday of each month these webinars will focus on a specific topic / feature of CitSci.org. We will demonstrate how to use the website feature and take feedback. The December webinar will focus on “Building Datasheets.” Together, we hope to guide the future of this exciting platform in support of your collaborative citizen science / community based monitoring efforts.
CitSci.org December “Feature Friday” webinar
December 6, 2013 (12:00 noon PST; 1:00 PM MST; 2:00 PM CST; 3:00 PM EST)
Date: December 6, 2013
Feature: Building Datasheets
Time: 1:00-2:00p (MST)
Dial (267) 507-0003
Access Code: 613-600-397
Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting
Meeting ID: 613-600-397
Please see this page for more details.
This is an announcement from the Citizen Cyberscience Summit.
Following the successful Citizen Cyberscience Summits in 2010 and 2012, we are pleased to announce a third meeting in London on 20-22 February 2014.
By citizen cyberscience, we refer to the wide range of activities that enable people from all walks of life to join in scientific projects through internet-based applications such as contributing the unused processing power of their computers to help scientific computing, classifying information, using their smartphones to collect nature observations or building their own Internet-enabled sensors to collect environmental information.
The summit will be structured as a 3-day event that offers scientists, practitioners, enthusiasts, policy makers and citizen scientists the unique opportunity to meet and discuss citizen science and citizen cyberscience, participate in activities, and develop prototypes for new projects.
The first day (Thursday, 20th February 2014) will focus on the wide range of citizen science activities, exploring the engagement, creativity and participation, outreach of citizen science to the developing world, and the undertaking of citizen science projects in challenging environments (e.g. in a rainforest or the Arctic). We also welcome talks that deal with the growing policy and environmental management implications of citizen science.
For the second day (Friday, 21st February 2014) we are calling for presentations on the technical aspects of citizen science, such as: the need for suitable hardware and software; or panels discussing with citizen scientists about their perceptions, participation and engagement; or a showcase of citizen science projects. Based upon the success of this event in 2012, we will launch a ‘think camp’/’hackfest’, which will carry on to the next day and is aimed at developing demonstrations of hardware and software that can be used in citizen science projects or simply a concentrated discussion on a specific topic of interest.
The final day (Saturday, 22nd February 2014) will include further conference sessions, workshops and development of prototypes, with an afternoon talk, presentations and awards for the best prototypes.
Overall, we hope to cover a range of topics of relevance to citizen science research, including: technical aspects of citizen science such as use of sensors; applications of smartphones for data collection or in combination with external sensors; linking the Internet of Things (IoT) and citizen science – sensor networks to human sensors; motivations, incentives and engagement patterns; citizen science with indigenous and low-literacy communities; social science, ethnographic and anthropological aspects of citizen science and creativity and learning in citizen science.
During the summit, there will be an opportunity to present short papers, run panels, organise workshops or provide showcase demonstrations. We would like to invite anyone interested in participating in this way to submit brief proposals of up to 750 words using the form: http://bit.ly/15SWBnw
Proposals should be submitted by 31st December 2013.
Registration will open in mid-December; full details will be available on our website soon.
We look forward to hearing from you and hope that you’ll be able to join us at the summit.
The Citizen Cyberscience Summit Organising Committee
This is a guest post from Bob Perciasepe. Appointed by President Obama in 2009 as the U.S. EPA’s Deputy Administrator, Bob Perciasepe continues a career spanning nearly four decades as one of the nation’s leading environmental and public policy figures. An expert on environmental stewardship, advocacy, public policy, and national resource and organizational management, Perciasepe is widely respected within both the environmental and U.S. business communities. Perciasepe holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources from Cornell University and a master’s degree in planning and public administration from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.
Find out more about today’s event at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.
Some time ago, observers and scientists noticing declining bird populations began to worry. One of those concerned was ornithologist Frank Chapman—an officer at the Audubon Society—who proposed something he thought would help: a new holiday tradition he called a “Christmas Bird Census.” That was in the year 1900.
For more than a hundred years, moms, dads, sons, and daughters have braved the elements and traveled to nearby conservation land or refuges and eagerly watched backyard feeders to participate in the Christmas Bird Count—and to contribute to conservation. To this day, the data collected by these citizen scientists inform researchers of the health of bird populations.
Citizen science isn’t a fresh idea. It’s tried and proven, and we’ve been at it for generations. But times have changed. Cell phones are equipped with high-resolution cameras. Low-cost sensors and GPS are readily available. And the internet sits at our fingertips in an increasingly interconnected world. These technologies have widened the boundaries and increased the value of citizen science in the 21st century.
That’s why today at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., I’ll join fellow federal agencies and partners to discuss how to continue moving forward on citizen science.
From crowdsourcing to mobile apps and more, we should take full advantage of the contemporary tools at our disposal. For example, NOAA recently launched mPing—a mobile app aimed at collecting weather observations from people like you. Those observations help scientists verify models, validate methods, and better serve families who rely on accurate weather information.
Citizen science, or public participation in scientific research, accomplishes two main goals.
First and foremost, it involves and empowers a participating public. We know that citizen science, when properly characterized and properly managed, can be a powerful tool, supporting the complexity and expertise of the scientific process agencies like EPA employ.
That’s how, secondly, data provided through a variety of citizen science activities contributes to our scientific knowledge base. From NGOs like the Audubon Society to government agencies like NOAA and EPA, citizen science can help organizations prioritize action and investment—so rulemakings and clean-up efforts reflect the realities folks are dealing with in their backyards.
Ongoing efforts at EPA are tapping into citizen science in a variety of ways.Volunteer water monitoring has helped protect streams, lakes and estuaries for decades, and continues to today. The EPA regional office in New Jersey/New York has worked with community partners to host workshops and events that support citizen science efforts in the region.
Through citizen science, millions of willing volunteers have the means to do their part to keep our environment safe and healthy. If you, your friends, or your families are already avid citizen scientists, comment below to tell us about your contributions. And I hope you’ll join us this afternoon, or tune in online, as we discuss New Visions for Citizen Science.
This post originally appeared on the EPA Connect Blog.
Back in January I met Glendon Mellow at Science Online. Since then I’ve been following his impressive work at the intersection of art and science and thinking a lot about where the relationship between the two might be found in citizen science. Scientific American’s Symbiartic blog has featured numerous articles about the intersection of science and art, from everyday science art, to visualizations from space, to scientifically literate illustrations with contemporary aesthetics, to exhibits about the intersection of art and science from around the nation.
Here at the intersection of art and science we find a space for rethinking the way that we communicate scientific information, what information is communicated, and what audiences we communicate with. Artists not only illustrate or otherwise create to communicate science, but also to provide insight into the relationship between science and society—productive tensions between scientific progress and critical questioning about what it means for us as humans.
Another place where we find productive tensions somewhere between tradition and radical innovation, following Thomas Kuhn, is in hacker, maker, and DIY communities. In these communities we find incredible technical innovation, interest in scientific research practices as well as critical engagement with the politics of our science and technology, especially concerning who is provided access. They’re also influencing science. Alessandro Delfanti‘s new book reminds us that “Open biology is embracing values and practices taken from the world of hacking and free software,” which has some interesting implications for science and citizen science, because it suggests that “science is experiencing the same type of differentiation and complexity shown by hacker cultures” (p. 12).
Bringing together science art, amateur biology, and DIY and hacker ethics to explore emerging engagement with amateur biology, Mary Tsang and Benjamin Welmond have teamed up to create a documentary: DIYSect. Tsang studied biology and art and comes to the project as a bioartist, and Welmond studied film and comes the project as a filmmaker. Together, they will travel around the United States and Canada to document the work of biohackers, bioartists, citizen scientists, scientists, writers, and curators who participate in DIYBio and BioArt projects.
From the North East to the South East and across to the West Coast, the team will visit biohackers and bioartists and others as they begin several discussions about how these amateur enterprises are developing. Tsang and Welmond are especially interested in questions about how biology, biotech, and biohacking influence our social, political, and philosophical outlooks. Bioartists provide especially critical insight to these questions and so become an important part of the project. Wythe Marschall offers one argument for the importance of such work here.
These filmmakers hope to generate interest in biology and biotechnology, engage critically and without fear current trends these research spaces demonstrate, explore how bioartists are raising and engaging such questions, and also examine the range of applications and accessibility afforded by the uptake of biological and biotechnology research by the DIY community.
DIYSect will be a web-series of 8-10 minute episodes, available at no cost on Vimeo, with several topics focusing especially on citizen science and DIYBio (How to Build Your Own BioHackLab, DIYBiology: A Tale in Two Parts, and The Future of Citizen Science) and also on issues that are likely to generate some difficult but interesting questions for those participating in citizen science projects (Genes, Self, and Identity, PostNaturalism: New Breeds of Hybridity, and Putting Patents on Life).
While the documentary has yet to be made, you can check out some previews on DIYSect’s homepage, and support their project over at Kickstarter. The project will be funded if it reaches its $8,000 goal by Wednesday Aug 7, 11:59pm EDT. Stop by and lend them your support!
Reference: Delfanti, A. (2013). Biohackers: The politics of Open Science. London: Pluto.
This post originally appeared on PLOS CitizenSci.
I like to call it an antipiphany* – that striking realization of the magnitude of what can be known, which reduces what you actually understand to a paltry amount.
I’ve seen it again and again with graduate students: they enroll feeling like smarty-pants, and within a year they are humbled by an antipiphany. Eventually settling into the comfort of not-knowing-it-all, they are motivated for discoveries, open to an epiphany.
Now a study by Aaron Price and Hee-Sun Lee found that participants in a citizen-science project, Citizen Sky, evaluated their own knowledge about science as lower after 6 months in the project compared to when they started the project.
What was the nature of participants’ apparent antipiphany? Through interviews, Price and Lee confirmed that participants developed a greater appreciation for how much they did not know and for how much they could potentially learn.
This appreciation was in conjunction with an increase in positive attitudes towards science. During those same 6 months, participants tended to seek out more science news and even other citizen-science projects. Realizing how little they knew simply drove them to want to know more.
A common message from citizen science projects is an empowering emphasis on the expertise that participants bring to the table. But does that emphasis encourage learning? Price and Lee’s study highlights for me a tightrope to be walked in citizen science: along with the empowering ‘anyone-can-be-an-expert’ message, participants need experiences that lead to an antipiphany, to understand and feel motivated by how much more there is to learn.
Citizen Sky Project
How did Citizen Sky, a project with over 6,000 registrants, walk the tightrope? Price and Lee took an in-depth look at project design. They outlined five design principles for citizen science projects.
“Design Principle 1: Use a context where volunteers’ contribution is necessary and meaningful for their scientific inquiry.”
In other words, citizen science should involve authentic research only, preferably testing hypotheses that could not otherwise be tested without help from the public. In Citizen Sky, participants were monitoring and trying to understand the 5th brightest star (epsilon) in the constellation Auriga. It is too bright for the highly sensitive detectors on most professional telescopes, and that’s why amateur astronomers were needed. Epsilon Aurigae isn’t really one star, but two or more: one supergiant and one (or two) almost dead stars, buried in a cloud of dust. The supergiant and the stars in the dust cloud revolve around each other, and one of these predictable eclipses, between 2009 and 2011, was the focus of the Citizen Sky project.
“Design Principle 2: Provide Internet resources to help volunteers interact with peers and scientists.”
In Citizen Sky, participants could interact by supplying data (brightness estimates of epsilon Aurigae), using web tools to explore everyone’s data, participating in online forums, participating in monthly live chats, and forming collaborative teams focused around mini-research projects.
“Design Principle 3: Actively involve scientists in a role of teaching and communication.”
In Citizen Sky, participants had access to professional researchers through an interactive blog, live chat sessions, and regular feedback, advice, and general support via the project website.
“Design Principle 4: Support participants for analyzing and presenting their own data.”
Authenticity in collecting and analyzing data is a key part of this principle. In Citizen Sky, participants could view graphs of their data superimposed over the data from everyone else. With the help of tutorials, they could explore what it might mean.
“Design Principle 5: Encourage participants to become an active member of a research community.”
Education researchers have long known the value of group work. Citizen Sky had dedicated space where participants could opt to form teams to work on a research project. The project even provided private areas for team members to chat and share documents. Participants formed 23 teams. Each had the intended goal of submitting a paper to a peer-reviewed astronomical journal.
Most citizen-science projects contain one or two of these design features, but Citizen Sky met ALL of these design principles.
Since Citizen Sky offered a veritable tapas menu of a little bit of everything, Price and Lee were able to tease apart which design elements fostered positive changes in participants’ attitudes about science. The answer they found is…
(drum roll, please)
If people spent time in the chat sessions with peers and scientists, then they learned more (including learning how much they did not know). Like the adage, you get out what you put in, participants who put energy towards the project gain the most from the project.
Price and Lee suggest that a sense of ownership in the scientific process and its products as well as a sense of community are two essential features of citizen science. People should not feel like anonymous data collectors or data processors. They must know each other. They must be real, just as the research must be real. Involvement only in the act of collecting data for science may not be enough to cause positive changes in attitudes toward science. Participants need to do more. And they need to do it together.
Just when I thought that I understood citizen science, Price and Lee’s results gave me the antipiphany of realizing how much more there is to understand. If we can design our citizen-science projects to bring scientific thinking into everyday conversations, then more people may realize there is so much more to learn. In this way, citizen science can take us one step closer in preparing our society to address complex issues and solve big problems. Just like the humbled graduate students, after antipiphanies in the online world of citizen science, perhaps we’ll all gain a collective e-piphany.
*Anyone know if there is already a word for this realization?
This post originally appeared on PLOS CitizenSci .
Price, C. A. and Lee, H.-S. (2013), Changes in participants’ scientific attitudes and epistemological beliefs during an astronomical citizen science project. J. Res. Sci. Teach.. doi: 10.1002/tea.21090
Caren Cooper is a scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology where she carries out research on birds almost exclusively with data collected by willing and able hobbyists. Caren has contributed guest blogposts about the history of citizen science for Scientific American. Twitter: @CoopSciScoop