SciStarter Blog http://scistarter.com/blog Covering the people, projects, and phenomena of citizen science Thu, 21 May 2015 19:35:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Is There a Community Lab Near You? – Find lab space, equipment, and training in your area!http://scistarter.com/blog/2015/05/is-there-a-community-lab-near-you-find-lab-space-equipment-and-training-in-your-area/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2015/05/is-there-a-community-lab-near-you-find-lab-space-equipment-and-training-in-your-area/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 13:25:29 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=11334 Do you want to explore, invent, design, or create something but don’t have the facilities to do so? Do you want to learn more about biotechnology, science, and laboratory safety? Community labs may be the perfect fit for you! Community labs are rapidly spreading throughout the world. Our editors highlight five, below. People often pay […]

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labs1

Photo: NIH

Do you want to explore, invent, design, or create something but don’t have the facilities to do so? Do you want to learn more about biotechnology, science, and laboratory safety? Community labs may be the perfect fit for you!

Community labs are rapidly spreading throughout the world. Our editors highlight five, below.

People often pay a membership fee to join and gain access to the lab’s space, community, equipment, materials and guidance. Members join existing projects or design and carry out independent research.

If you run or belong to one not already listed on SciStarter, go ahead and add itso we can help more citizen scientists find it!

Cheers!

The SciStarter Team

biocurious

Photo: Biocurious

BioCurious  

Located just outside San Jose, California, BioCurious provides lab space and equipment to its members. They also offer safety and equipment training. In addition to the paid membership option, BioCurious runs community projects that are free and open to the public.

Photo: Counter Culture Labs

Photo: Counter Culture Labs

Counter Culture Labs 

This Oakland, California, lab is still in its early days, with a physical space developing. Members who join now can participate in the planning process, meet like-minded people interested in science, and collaborate on the lab’s current project- making vegan cheese!

Get Started!

genspace

Photo: Genspace

GenSpace  

The GenSpace lab provides access to biotechnology and scientific investigation in Brooklyn, New York. GenSpace members can use the lab facilities for their own research, and children and adults can participate in classes and events.

Get Started!

bugss

Photo: BUGSS

BUGSS

The Baltimore UnderGround Science Space offers equipment and lab space for members to explore biotechnology. They also offer short courses on topics like 3D printing and synthetic biology.

Get Started!

diybio

Photo: DIY Bio

DIYBio   

DIY Bio isn’t just one lab; it’s a global community of public laboratories, including the ones we’ve described above. They’ll help you find a lab in your area, answer your biosafety questions, and provide resources for do-it-yourself biotechnology.

Don’t miss the monthly #CitSciChat on Twitter: the last Wednesday of the month at 3-4pm ET, moderated by Caren Cooper @CoopSciScoop and presented by @SciStarter.

Contact the SciStarter Team
Email: info@scistarter.com
Website: http://scistarter.com

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Citizen scientist divers help track the success of artificial reefs.http://scistarter.com/blog/2015/05/citizen-scientist-divers-help-track-the-success-of-artificial-reefs/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2015/05/citizen-scientist-divers-help-track-the-success-of-artificial-reefs/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 10:00:15 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=11308   This is a guest post by Michael Bear Citizen Science Project Director at Ocean Sanctuaries.  In this post, he describes a citizen science led effort to catalog marine life living in and around the HMCS Yukon. In 2000, the Yukon was transformed into an artificial reef as part of San Diego’s  marine conservation effort.   In 2000, […]

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: Photographs taken by citizen scientist divers allow the scientific community to see the marine life flourishing on the Yukon. Source Michael Bear.

Once a warship, the HMCS Yukon is now an artificial reef providing much needed sanctuary for local marine life. Source Michael Bear.

 

This is a guest post by Michael Bear Citizen Science Project Director at Ocean Sanctuaries.  In this post, he describes a citizen science led effort to catalog marine life living in and around the HMCS Yukon. In 2000, the Yukon was transformed into an artificial reef as part of San Diego’s  marine conservation effort.

 

In 2000, the City of San Diego in collaboration with the San Diego Oceans Foundation (SDOF), purchased, cleaned and sank a 366 foot-long Canadian warship called the HMCS Yukon to create an artificial reef, a task at which has been spectacularly successful. Sitting at the bottom of the San Diego coast, the Yukon attracts dozens of local marine life species and is becoming a revenue-generating attraction for tourist divers from around the world.

When this project started, both the SDOF and the local scientific community were curious to understand the effects of an artificial reef on local fish populations and surrounding marine life. A joint study was undertaken by SDOF and Dr. Ed Parnell of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and released in 2004.¹ Crucial to the study was data gathered by local citizen science divers to generate a baseline of marine life species on the ship.

This year, Ocean Sanctuaries, San Diego’s first citizen science oriented, ocean non-profit is conducting a follow up study to the pioneering work of Dr. Parnell and colleagues. Established in 2014, Ocean Sanctuaries encourages and supports citizen science projects which empower local divers to gather marine data under scientific mentorship and forward our understanding of the oceans. Ocean Sanctuaries currently has three active citizen science projects. ‘Sharks of California’ and the ‘Sevengill Shark ID Project’ are both shark related. The third project is the follow-up study on the Yukon called the Yukon Marine Life Survey.

The data gathered in this project will be mainly photographic. Local divers will photograph specific areas of the ship in quadrats and with transect lines and the data will to be compared with the same areas examined in the 2004 study.

Artificial reefs are proving to be a successful marine conservation effort. Source Michael Bear.

Photographs taken by citizen scientist divers allow the scientific community to track marine life on the Yukon. Source Michael Bear.

The project plans to use a web-based application for wildlife data management called ‘Wildbook’ for cataloging observations made in the Yukon Marine Life Survey. ‘Wildbook’ was originally designed to identify whale sharks, but will be modified as a multi-species database for use with the Yukon Marine Life Survey.²

Referring to the original Yukon Marine Life Survey of 2004¹, Barbara Lloyd, Founder of Ocean Sanctuaries says, “The Yukon Artificial Reef Monitoring Project (ARMP) was a short-term baseline study of fish transects and photo quadrats. The ARMP project has been gathering data for about a decade now.  We at Ocean Sanctuaries strongly believe that a follow up study to the original baseline study can provide the research and fishing communities with valuable marine life data.  In addition, unlike the original study, we intend to use photographs to ensure verifiable encounter data.  We aim to create a large base of citizen scientists to take the photos and enter the data.  This crowd-sourced data will allow us to collaborate between citizens and researchers.”

The current Yukon Marine Life Survey will span at least five years. Once completed, the data will inform scientists of changes to the marine life on the ship enabling California coastal managers to evaluate the impact of artificial reefs on local marine species.  Take a video tour of the Yukon and learn more about the project at SciStarter.

 

 

References:
1. Ecological Assessment of the HMCS Yukon Artificial Reef
off San Diego, CA, Dr. Ed Parnell, 2004:

http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.dema.org/resource/resmgr/imported/S2R-2005-01-EcologicalAssessment-Yukon.pdf

2. Wildbook: A Web-based Application for Wildlife Data Management

http://www.wildme.org/wildbook/doku.php?id=start

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iSeeChange: documenting the weather around ushttp://scistarter.com/blog/2015/05/iseechange-documenting-weather-around-us/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2015/05/iseechange-documenting-weather-around-us/#comments Sat, 09 May 2015 13:53:56 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=11263 From shoveling the third heavy snowfall of winter to spotting the first crocus of spring, each day without fail we experience our environment. Meaning each of us is a potential wealth of information about our local environment. Information that if gathered could inform climate scientists about the local effects and potential indicators of climate change. […]

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April in Redlands Mesa. Source: iSeeChange

April in Redlands Mesa. Source: iSeeChange

From shoveling the third heavy snowfall of winter to spotting the first crocus of spring, each day without fail we experience our environment. Meaning each of us is a potential wealth of information about our local environment. Information that if gathered could inform climate scientists about the local effects and potential indicators of climate change. This is the premise of iSeeChange, a crowdsourced journal of community submitted local weather and environment observations.

The variability of weather and environmental conditions is an inherent challenge in climate science. Is the current drought in California a result of climate change or just an extreme version of the state’s periodic droughts? Was the devastation of Hurricane Sandy a fluke event or foreshadowing of a future trend?

To address this variability, climate scientists collect and average data across large spans of time and space. But managing data this way poses its own issues. “Climate science has a difficult time drilling down and being relevant to everyday people making every day decisions,” says Julia Kumari Drapkin creator of iSeeChange. “We designed iSeeChange to bridge the gap between the big data that the scientists collect and the local experiences of individuals and communities. The project allows people to reach their hands up and meet the big data half way overcoming this problem of scale.”

Listen to farmers discuss the iSeeChange project. Source: iSeeChange.

Listen to farmers discuss the iSeeChange project. Source: iSeeChange.

Since its creation in 2012, iSeeChange has grown from a local weather almanac in Colorado to a nationwide environmental reporting network. Anyone can become a member and submit observations on the website. Viewers can sort through the data by date or season, refining their search through metrics such as humidity, precipitation or cloud cover. Ideally members submit data on a weekly basis but in reality participation can range from a single backyard photo to religiously gathered measurements. One iSeeChange member uploaded observations made in a journal kept by a Dust Bowl era fruit farmer, noted Julia.

But beyond a data repository, the purpose of the project is to encourage conversation between scientists, journalists and individuals. “We want people to be curious, ask questions about what they see and experience. Then scientists and journalists in our network try to answer those questions,” says Drapkin. “The posts help scientists and journalist as well. Member submissions call attention to interesting or unusual events, which get picked up by journalists, transforming a few individual’s observations into a larger story.”

And these stories will become informative climate data for the future. Already researchers are expressing interest in the data. The project’s growth and collaborations with scientific partners at NASA, UC Berkeley and Yale is setting the stage for a larger impact. Due out in summer, iSeeChange co-developed an app with NASA that will ping community members to send in local observations whenever satellites are overhead. “The app will allow for real time comparisons between what the satellite sees and what is happening on a local level,” explains Drapkin. “We will learn what the impacts are and why it matters. We will be able to take the quantitative data and match it to the qualitative data and see how they compare over time.”

Ultimately iSeeChange is about empowering individuals and communities to document and investigate their environment. “People are experts of their own backyards. The granular changes they observe add up to bigger picture changes,” says Drapkin. “Already, these community observations have given scientists and journalist new insights and heads up on environmental trends.”

iSeeChange_logo  If you collect data about your local environment, want to share an interesting change you have notice or have a question you, visit iSeeChange and become part of a large scale effort to document your environment. To learn more about iSeeChange view their trailer.

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Like Bugs? Here Are Six Citizen Science Projects for You!http://scistarter.com/blog/2015/05/like-bugs-here-are-six-citizen-science-projects-for-you/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2015/05/like-bugs-here-are-six-citizen-science-projects-for-you/#comments Thu, 07 May 2015 10:20:00 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=11276 Many of us are fascinated by insects. They creep, they crawl, they fly, and they’re everywhere!  Good thing, because we need them. Here are six insect projects you can do in your backyard, your neighborhood, at school (or in Costa Rica!). Check out the SciStarter blog for updates on your favorite projects and find new projects […]

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butterfly top

Photo: USFWS

Many of us are fascinated by insects. They creep, they crawl, they fly, and they’re everywhere!  Good thing, because we need them.

Here are six insect projects you can do in your backyard, your neighborhood, at school (or in Costa Rica!).

Check out the SciStarter blog for updates on your favorite projects and find new projects in our Project Finder!

Cheers!

Photo: USDA

Photo: USDA

Spot a Ladybug

The Harlequin ladybug, also known as the Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) is found throughout the world. When you see one of these tiny insects, report it online to help study the variation in the number of spots.

Get Started!

Photo: Nancy Lowe

Photo: Nancy Lowe

Mothing

Have you ever watched moths flitting around your porch light at night? With Mothing, you can do more than just watch; you can take pictures and help identify moths from around the world. The project also offers teaching materials for educators.

Photo: CL Goforth

Photo: CL Goforth

Dragonfly Swarm Project 

If you‘re lucky enough to see a swarm of dragonflies, it’s definitely an experience you‘ll want to share with others. By reporting information on the size, location, and behavior of dragonfly swarms you see, you cancontribute to our understanding of these beautiful insects.

Get Started!

Photo: USDA

Photo: USDA

School of Ants 

Scientists want to know what kinds of ants live in urban settings, and they need your help to do it! Make your own ant collecting kit and mail in the ants you find to be identified. You might even discover an entirely new species!

Get Started!

Photo: CL Purvis

Photo: CL Purvis

UK Ladybird Survey   

In the US, they’re called ladybugs or lady beetles, but in the UK, they’re ladybirds. Help researchers track native and invasive ladybirds in the United Kingdom. Submit observations online.

Photo: Earth Watch

Photo: Earth Watch

Climate Change and Caterpillars

If you‘ve been saving up for a vacation, consider putting that hard-earned money towards a trip to Costa Rica, where your help is needed to share observations about caterpillars and their parasitoids. The data you collect will be used to study how climate change is affecting biodiversity in the tropics.

Don’t miss the monthly #CitSciChat on Twitter: the last Wednesday of the month at 3-4pm ET, moderated by Caren Cooper @CoopSciScoop and presented by @SciStarter.

Contact the SciStarter Team
Email: info@scistarter.com
Website: http://scistarter.com

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Making Medicines from Soil: Going Behind the Scenes of a Citizen Science Projecthttp://scistarter.com/blog/2015/04/making-medicines-from-soil-going-behind-the-scenes-of-a-citizen-science-project/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2015/04/making-medicines-from-soil-going-behind-the-scenes-of-a-citizen-science-project/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 12:30:31 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=11257 Taking you behind the scenes and into the laboratory of the Citizen Science Soil Collection Program This is a guest post by Dr Robert H. Cichewicz a professor at the University of Oklahoma and leader of the Citizen Science Soil Collection Program. Dr Cichewicz previously wrote on SciStarter about how you can participate in this project. In […]

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general-pick-of-fungi-for-intro_photo-C-Coker-1024x669

Making Medicines from Soil (Image Credit: C Coker, Cichewicz Lab)

Taking you behind the scenes and into the laboratory of the Citizen Science Soil Collection Program

This is a guest post by Dr Robert H. Cichewicz a professor at the University of Oklahoma and leader of the Citizen Science Soil Collection Program. Dr Cichewicz previously wrote on SciStarter about how you can participate in this project. In this post, he describes what really happens behind the scenes in his laboratory that helps their team discover (with your help!) new compounds from fungi that could prove to be useful in treating diseases. Find germs and microbes intriguing?Check out more microbe themed projects that we’ve picked out for you at SciStarter!

For millennia, our ancestors turned to the Earth as a source of healing agents to address all manner of illness. For example, the Ebers Papyrus (written in the vicinity of Egypt around 1500 BC) provides hundreds of examples of medicinal plants and minerals used to treat many disease conditions including pain, vomiting, and infections. Fast forward to modern times and we see that the research methods used to study diseases have changed dramatically, but the idea that the Earth is the best source of lifesaving drugs has endured. The philosophy that our planet still holds many secrets to modern ailments is substantiated by a large and growing list of drugs that come from nature. Many of these medicines are made by soil-dwelling bacteria and fungi. Microbes have yielded a wide variety of important compounds (for example penicillin, statins, and cyclosporins originally come from fungi) for treating cancer and infections. But finding these beneficial dirt-dwelling microbes and turning them into life-saving medicines is not a simple task. It requires teams of researchers, as well as help from people such as you. A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post inviting to you to be a part of this process and become a citizen scientist by sending us a soil sample from your backyard. We have had an overwhelming response to our requests, recieving thousands of samples which we are now processing through in the hope of discovering the next amazing secret that nature holds.

You might ask yourself, “What really happens after I send this sample?” or “How long does it actually take for you to discover something from what I send you?”.  In an attempt to answer some of those questions and tell you what happens behind the scenes, I decided to write this post.

Hop on and let me take you on a journey that turns a handful of dirt into a life-saving drug.

Step 1: From your yard to our lab

The journey begins when you request a free Citizen Science Soil Collection Kit from our lab. After you pick a favorite place in your yard, put a small handful of soil in the collection bag, seal it and drop the packet in your mailbox (we’ve already paid the return postage for you!). It takes less than 5 minutes, and did I mention it’s free?

Step 2: Growing fungi from soil

Soil samples spread on a petri dish to grow fungi (Image Credit: C Coker)

Soil samples spread on a petri dish to grow fungi (Image Credit: C Coker, Cichewicz Lab)

Our hardworking team of students and researchers begin the process of isolating fungi from your sample. Most soils are teeming with several kinds of microbes including fungi – a great source of new and useful drug-like molecules. Even if you cannot see them, there are likely thousands in your sample. We spread the soil on the surface of a petri dish that is filled with a gel infused with fungi-food which include things like soil “tea,” blended-up worms, simple sugars, and ground tomatoes – Yum!.

Step 3: Identifying fungal species using DNA sequencing

After growing and isolating the fungi in the soil sample, the next step is to identify new species using genetic sequence information. Hidden in vast landscape of the fungus’ DNA there is a small stretch of genetic material known as the internal transcribed spacer (ITS). This fungal ‘barcode’ helps us distinguish between different species, identify new ones or categorize them into a larger group known as genera. It is estimated that somewhere around 5 million different fungi live on Earth, but only about 2% have been identified. Given these odds, you’ve probably had one or more new kinds of fungi living in your yard all along and never knew it!

Thanks to the fantastic response to our outreach, we’ve received hundreds of samples, which is a good thing. But the sheer volume of samples we are dealing with means that growing and identifying fungi might take microbiologists a year or more to get your sample processed. But we won’t keep you in the dark! We will be setting up a fungus photo album so you can see what fungi were isolated from your sample. Check out our website for updates!

Step 4: Extracting fungal compounds and testing them in different models of disease

Fungi's favorite food? Why Cheerios of course! (Image Credit: C Coker)

Fungi’s favorite food? Why Cheerios of course! (Image Credit: C Coker, Cichewicz Lab)

Ultimately, it comes down to the chemistry that each fungus is making to help us determine if it has something ‘good’ that could help treat a disease. We grow the fungi on their favorite food – Cheerios breakfast cereal. As it turns out, Cheerios is not only a great food for toddlers, children, and adults, but fungi really like them too. We place Cheerios in test tubes along with the fungus and let it grow for several weeks allowing it to consume the cereal. The fungus is then extracted to remove its special compounds (the natural products) and these are stored in a freezer for later tesacting.

One by one, the fungal compounds are tested for biological activity that might prove useful in a therapeutic setting. For example, we add the compounds to cancer cells to see if we can stop them from dividing or give them to pathogenic bacteria to try and stop their growth. The compounds are also entered into a collection that is tested when new disease targets become available. Growing the fungus and extrting the compounds takes about two months but testing, conducted by our biology team can take as little as a few days or up to years to complete.

Step 6:  Purifying the compound and finding its chemical structure

To figure out what the fungi are making, we grow them in large bags containing Cheerios. We then use chemical techniques to purify the desirable natural product away from all the other compounds in the fungal cells. Chemical structure determination then ensues. This step is rather similar to solving a big puzzle where we try and figure out the chemical makeup of the unknown substance. This is a highly variable step that might take weeks and sometimes many months to complete. Solving the structures of unknown compounds is fun, but it takes a lot of patience and the hard work of chemists in our lab.

Testing natural compounds against disease models in the laboratory

Testing natural compounds against disease models in the laboratory (Image Credit: C Coker, Cichewicz Lab)

Step 6: Further testing purified natural product

We study the biological uses of the compounds, as well as share them with our collaborators, many of whom are pharmacologists trained in cancer and infectious disease biology. We work with a network of great scientists from around the country to try and determine the best use for the many new compounds from the fungi. This step can take years to compete, but the good news is that we have many dedicated scientists ready and excited to test the new and amazing compounds from fungi.

It is truly amazing when you consider the lengthy and complex chain of events that unfold once you, a member of our Citizen Scientist Team, takes that first small step of sending in a soil sample. You never know what we may find or where we might find it. Despite all of these uncertainties, there is one thing that is undeniable – without you, we cannot hope to beat diseases like cancer and infections. So do not delay a second longer; request your Citizen Science Soil Collection kit today and join the fight. Or as we like to say, “Get your hands dirty. Make a difference.”

 

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Celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day with SciStarter and Citizen Science!http://scistarter.com/blog/2015/04/celebrate-earth-day-and-arbor-day-with-citizen-science/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2015/04/celebrate-earth-day-and-arbor-day-with-citizen-science/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 12:01:24 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=11240 Earth Day is April 22 and Arbor Day (in the USA) is April 24!   Just about every one of the 1,000 projects featured on SciStarter contributes to a better planet but here five projects you can do to participate in research about trees, just about anywhere on Earth.   Cheers! The SciStarter Team PhillyTreeMap Covering […]

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Photo: NPS

Photo: NPS

Earth Day is April 22 and Arbor Day (in the USA) is April 24!

 

Just about every one of the 1,000 projects featured on SciStarter contributes to a better planet but here five projects you can do to participate in research about trees, just about anywhere on Earth.

 

Photo: NPS

Photo: NPS

PhillyTreeMap

Covering 13 counties in three states, this project’s goal is to create an inventory of all the trees in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. That will enable scientists to estimate the environmental benefits the region receives from its trees.

Phoot: NPS

Phoot: NPS

TreeKIT

This project relies on volunteers to locate and record the positions of curbside trees in East Harlem, New York. That information will then be used to assign tree stewards and help government agencies with tree maintenance.

Photo: EarthWatch

Photo: EarthWatch

Explore Boston’s Urban Forest 

Identify Boston’s trees to learn what factors affect the health and benefits of urban trees. The project runs through the summer and has fees associated with it.

Get Started!

Photo: NPS

Photo: NPS

Treezilla

Mapping every tree in Great Britain sounds like a lofty goal, but with the power of citizen science, it’s definitely possible! It’s easy to help, and participants who can’t identify a tree on their own can upload a photograph and get help from the Treezilla community.

Get Started!

Photo: NPS

Photo: NPS

Leafsnap 

Many people want to participate in a tree-related citizen science project, but  don’t feel confident in their tree ID skills. If that sounds like you, check out the Leafsnap app! It uses image recognition software to help you identify trees based on their leaves.

Are you in or near Philadelphia, PA? We want to meet you at Philly Tech Week and the Philadelphia Science Festival April 22-May 2.
Check this out!Don’t miss the monthly #CitSciChat on Twitter: the last Wednesday of the month at 3-4pm ET, moderated by Caren Cooper @CoopSciScoop and presented by @SciStarter.Contact the SciStarter Team
Email: info@scistarter.com
Website: http://scistarter.com

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SciStarter and Citizen Science at Philly Tech Week and the Philadelphia Science Festival!http://scistarter.com/blog/2015/04/scistarter-and-citizen-science-at-philly-tech-week-and-the-philadelphia-science-festival/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2015/04/scistarter-and-citizen-science-at-philly-tech-week-and-the-philadelphia-science-festival/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 07:26:29 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=11231 Wednesday, April 22 9:00am – 12:00pm  Excite Center 3401 Market St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104 In partnership with Drexel University’s Center for Science, Technology & Society and the ExCITe Center, this event will workshop digital projects and their platforms to improve accessibility and empower citizen scientists.SciStarter.com is a Philly start-up with international reach featuring 1,000 citizen […]

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Philly Tech Fest SciStarter and Drexel
Wednesday, April 22
9:00am12:00pm 
Excite Center

3401 Market St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
In partnership with Drexel University’s Center for Science, Technology & Society and the ExCITe Center, this event will workshop digital projects and their platforms to improve accessibility and empower citizen scientists.SciStarter.com is a Philly start-up with international reach featuring 1,000 citizen science projects in need of help from the public. TheAsthmaFiles.orgis a collaborative ethnographic research project designed to advance understanding and efforts to address environmental public health challenges around the world. Both platforms will benefit from enhanced cyberinfrastructure to make it easier for people to participate in citizen science, track their contributions, connect with others, and more.At this event, representatives from the programs will present an overview and describe their cyber infrastructure challenges.

Learn about the projects then weigh in during the hands-on workshop designed to enhance the platforms and improve the experience for participants.

soil citizen science
Saturday, April 25
11:00am – 2:00pm
The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education

8480 Hagys Mill Rd, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19128
Meet the SciStarter team and get involved in citizen science to collect microbes from soil for drug discoveries, track air quality, monitor phenology, map tress, build your own ZomBEE trap and more! We’re partnering with Discover Magazine and Astronomy Magazine to bring you more opportunities to get your hands dirty with science!
phillies citizen science
Saturday, April 25
6:00pm
SciStarter, Science Cheerleader Discover Magazine and Astronomy Magazine present:
“Be a Citizen’s (Bank) Scientist!”
Get involved in real research projects right in Citizen’s Bank Park at thePhiladelphia Phillies ! Monitor air quality, light pollution, and help inform NASA’s Asteroid Initiative from your stadium seat. Learn about the 1,000 opportunities to become a citizen scientist wherever you are!
fishtown citizen science scistarter
Sunday, April 26 2pm
Frankford Hall
1210 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19114
Take pub hopping to a whole new level during the Fishtown Science Crawl! Enjoy great drink specials as you explore your favorite Fishtown spots. Be A Citizen Scientist: Take part in some Citizen Science with SciStarter and explore Leafsnap, an electronic field guide, or if you’re feeling daring learn all about and zombees! FREE to attend, $5.00 wristband for Happy Hour prices at all venues.
Philadelphia Science Festival citizen science
Saturday, May 2
10:00am – 4:00pm
Ben Franklin Parkway
Science like you’ve never enjoyed it before! Meet the SciStarter team andScience Cheerleader s. We’re joined forces with Discover Magazine andAstronomy Magazine to bring you tons of opportunities to do citizen science and make a difference in the world. Find microbes in soil that may advance drug discoveries. Learn how to use low cost sensors to track air and water quality. Design your own community research question and more. Pick up a #citizenscience pin or a copy of a magazine. #GetNerdy!

Find more posts like SciStarter and Citizen Science at Philly Tech Week and the Philadelphia Science Festival! by Darlene Cavalier on the SciStarter Blog. Your source for citizen science and other science you can do.

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Citizen Science Helps Discover Thirty New Species Where You Would Least Expect Ithttp://scistarter.com/blog/2015/04/citizen-science-helps-discover-thirty-new-species-where-you-would-least-expect-it/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2015/04/citizen-science-helps-discover-thirty-new-species-where-you-would-least-expect-it/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 13:40:26 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=11224 Thisi a guest post by Aaron Pomerantz, a version of which originally appeared on the author’s website The Next Gen Scientist. Search through hundreds of citizen science projects on SciStarter to find one that gets you buzzing! A recent study has revealed thirty species that are new to science living in the bustling city of Los […]

Find more posts like Citizen Science Helps Discover Thirty New Species Where You Would Least Expect It by Editorial Team on the SciStarter Blog. Your source for citizen science and other science you can do.

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30 New fly species discovered by the citiens c0ience project BioSCAN (Image Credit: Kelsey Bailey/Emily Hartop)

30 New fly species discovered by the citiens c0ience project BioSCAN (Image Credit: Kelsey Bailey/Emily Hartop)

Thisi a guest post by Aaron Pomerantz, a version of which originally appeared on the author’s website The Next Gen Scientist. Search through hundreds of citizen science projects on SciStarter to find one that gets you buzzing!

A recent study has revealed thirty species that are new to science living in the bustling city of Los Angeles. This is really exciting news because we usually don’t think of urbanized areas as having biologically diverse environments. Our human-made habitat seems removed from nature; buildings and concrete replacing trees and earth. But our lack of information on urban environments has turned into an interesting research opportunity. A few years ago, The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County initiated a project called BioSCAN to search for biodiversity, also known as the variety of life forms.

How they did it

It all started with setting up insect traps in the back yards of LA residents. Once a week, these traps were collected, brought back to the museum, and sorted. Emily Hartop and Dr. Brian Brown are the BioSCAN scientists who spearheaded the study for these 30 new species. They focused on the identification of phorids, a group of flies that are small in size but big in diversity.

Emily put in the incredible amount of time required to describe these insects. The process involves carefully inspecting, measuring, and illustrating the physical features of each fly (including fly genitalia). Emily then had the task of comparing her specimens to every known phorid in the world to determine if hers were indeed different. But after all the hours of hard work under the microscope, they now have 30 flies that are new to science. They chose to name each species in honor of the volunteers who hosted the BioSCAN collections in their yards.

Future Outlooks

​So what comes next? In our rapidly changing world, the fauna of cities remains poorly understood. This gives ample opportunity for the next generation of scientists and citizen scientists to uncover more unknown species, describe their life histories, observe new behaviors, and teach us all how these enigmatic creatures impact the urban ecosystem and affect our lives.​

So just remember, you don’t need to travel to a far-off tropical land to find a new species. Maybe you, or your son or daughter, will be inspired to step outside and take a closer look at the natural world around you – and who knows, you may find something new!


Aaron pomerantzAaron Pomerantz is a scientist who specializes in one of the most important groups of living organisms on the planet: insects! He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Entomology from the University of California Riverside and a Master of Science degree in Entomology and Molecular Biology from the University of Florida. Aaron is currently a Science Reporter for Rainforest Expeditions, which involves organizing expeditions to the Peruvian Amazon with teams of biologists, photographers, and filmmakers to share stories about scientific research, wildlife, and discoveries. Follow him @AaronPomerantz

 

 

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Meet the Spring interns!http://scistarter.com/blog/2015/04/meet-the-spring-interns/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2015/04/meet-the-spring-interns/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 06:33:00 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=11216 My name is Hined Rafeh, and I’m a first year graduate student at Drexel University studying Science, Technology, and Society. I am interested in studying citizen science and mixing it up with project owners, participants and everyone in between. I hope to meet you and other members of the SciStarter community at some of the […]

Find more posts like Meet the Spring interns! by Darlene Cavalier on the SciStarter Blog. Your source for citizen science and other science you can do.

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My name is Hined Rafeh, and I’m a first year graduate student at Drexel University studying Science, Technology, and Society. I am interested in studying citizen science and mixing it up with project owners, participants and everyone in between. I hope to meet you and other members of the SciStarter community at some of the upcoming SciStarter events I am organizing at the Philadelphia Science Festival between April 23-May 2!

 

 

ErnestHi, my name is Ernest Clymer and I am a junior at Temple University. My area of study is marketing and I hope to graduate with my B.A. by 2016. At this time I am interning at SciStarter not only in hopes of gaining experience with a start-up but being a part of an organization that focuses on building public engagement in science! SciStarter, to me, is the future of how we will obtain and share information with other people all over the world and I’m happy to be able to further promote these efforts through social media and working on promotions for upcoming events taking place in the Philadelphia area!

 

Editor’s note: It’s been such a pleasure working with Hined and Ernest. Their creativity is remarkable and inspiring! We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with them!

Find more posts like Meet the Spring interns! by Darlene Cavalier on the SciStarter Blog. Your source for citizen science and other science you can do.

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‘Snapshots in Time’: Spotting a Spotted Salamanderhttp://scistarter.com/blog/2015/04/snapshots-in-time-spotting-a-spotted-salamander/ http://scistarter.com/blog/2015/04/snapshots-in-time-spotting-a-spotted-salamander/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 13:06:55 +0000 http://scistarter.com/blog/?p=11205 by Aditi Joshi Are you a resident of the northern US or Canada? You can help scientists to spot amphibians! Welcome Spring! As the temperature rises, the beauty of spring unfolds: snow melts, flowers bloom, and birds begin to chirp. In the amphibian world, spring marks the beginning of breeding activities. Among amphibians, wood frogs […]

Find more posts like ‘Snapshots in Time’: Spotting a Spotted Salamander by Abigail Collins on the SciStarter Blog. Your source for citizen science and other science you can do.

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Citizen scientists on a field trip to spot wood frogs and spotted salamanders. Image Credit: Chase Mclean.

Citizen scientists on a field trip to spot wood frogs and spotted salamanders. Image Credit: Chase Mclean.

by Aditi Joshi

Are you a resident of the northern US or Canada? You can help scientists to spot amphibians!

Welcome Spring! As the temperature rises, the beauty of spring unfolds: snow melts, flowers bloom, and birds begin to chirp. In the amphibian world, spring marks the beginning of breeding activities. Among amphibians, wood frogs and spotted salamanders are usually the first to breed, laying eggs (spawns) in short-lived pools, ponds and wetlands.

Scientists like Dr. Stephen Spear, from the Orianne Society, are interested in monitoring amphibian breeding activity for further insight into the effect of climatic changes on certain ecosystems. For instance, a cold spell in spring may disrupt the breeding activities of amphibians. Additionally, the presence of commonly found amphibian species, such as wood frogs and spotted salamanders, indicates a relatively healthy landscape, which helps determine important conservation areas.

Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) in wetlands. Image Credit: Pete Oxford

Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) in wetlands. Image Credit: Pete Oxford

Monitoring the timing of breeding activity can be tricky. Wood frogs and spotted salamanders are found in wetlands across various states, including Alaska, southeastern states such as Georgia and Tennessee, northeastern states such as New York and Maine, and large parts of Canada. Realizing a small team would be ineffective in monitoring wood frogs and spotted salamanders widely distributed across the U.S. and Canada, the scientists sought support from citizen scientists.

Last year, the Orianne Society launched the citizen science project ‘Snapshots in Time’, providing participants with a unique opportunity to identify, observe, and photograph the various stages of amphibian life that they found near their homes. In 2014, citizen scientists contributed over 100 such observations. More observations reported from southern states as compared to northern states, likely due to the differences in the breeding season. In states such as North Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan, breeding season spans from April to June, unlike southern states where breeding activity begins in January. This year, the project hopes for more observations from the northern states. Compared to the adult and egg stages of amphibian life, larvae are more difficult to spot, and only 15 percent of the observations were of the larvae and metamorphic stages. Some participants were able to see a fascinating courtship ritual – a well choreographed dance by salamanders to attract their partners.

According to Dr. Spear, spotted salamanders live on land but breed in wetlands. People who study spotted salamanders look forward to ‘mass migration’, an intriguing breeding activity where, on a rainy night, salamanders parade en masse from land to wetlands. That’s an exciting natural history experience.

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Visit Snapshots in Time on SciStarter and learn how to participate.

If you loved reading about this citizen science project from SciStarter, use our project finder to search our database of more than 1000 projects! What’s more, subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll send you handpicked citizen science projects once every two weeks!


 

Aditi Joshi, a freelance science writer, is an expert in the field of clinical psychophysiology. She holds a PhD in Human Physiology from the University of Oregon and has published several academic papers. Apart from science, she is interested in Native American art, and art history.

Find more posts like ‘Snapshots in Time’: Spotting a Spotted Salamander by Abigail Collins on the SciStarter Blog. Your source for citizen science and other science you can do.

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