By Arvind Suresh (Editor) November 25th, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Comment
We’re working with Beacon, an independent platform for journalism, to crowdfund an expansion of SciStarter’s citizen science coverage.
We have 8 days left to reach our goal of $6,000 to make this happen. Today, we’re 13 percent of the way there. Let’s get to 25 percent together by the end of the day today!
You can back our project by clicking here or by visiting this link:
As a backer, you can subscribe for as little as $5/month, and there are cool rewards, like SciStarter t-shirts, for backers who subscribe for more.
By Arvind Suresh (Editor) November 14th, 2014 at 1:41 pm | Comment
What: A hands-on 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! Read the rest of this entry »
By Angus Chen November 13th, 2014 at 11:00 am | Comment
Citizen science runs on the sweat of volunteers — that’s one of the things that makes it so incredible. And for a long time, so has the SciStarter blog network. This has been great for us, and we would love to keep doing that. But if we’re going to expand and bring you more stories, deeper stories, we need to be able to really let our contributors focus on creating. So, we’re hoping to change raise funds with this new campaign from Beacon Reader, and we’re asking you to help make that a reality.
Like every editor and contributor at the SciStarter blog network, which includes the Discover magazine “Citizen Science Salon” and Public Library of Science Cit Sci blog, I have another job. I’m a freelance reporter, editor, and radio producer. Some of our contributors are scientists and experts, and some of them are, like myself, professional journalists and writers.
One of the greatest pleasures in my professional life is getting to write and edit for these blogs.That’s why we’re still here. The stories we can find and create with citizen science are some of the best, and we’re about to make this blog even better. Not that it isn’t already pretty awesome, but with your contributions, we’re going to be able to tell citizen science stories that are more in depth, better reported, and have a wider reach of topics and ideas.
I believe that information is precious, that stories about science are a perfect complement to citizen science, and that they help us learn something that we would otherwise never have learned. I believe that our people have told great stories which I’ve loved, and I believe you have too. All the money will go directly to our contributors and our editors for the blog only, letting us dedicate more of our time to covering these stories.
That’s why we’re asking you to join us and the hundreds of other talented storytellers on Beacon. You’ll improve the quality and depth of the stories we create on this blog. You’ll get a subscription to every story by every writer on Beacon Reader, on science, politics, art, and more. And if you support us at $80, we’ll send you an awesome robot t-shirt in the mail. But most importantly, you’ll be supporting something that matters to you and to thousands of other people.
With my sincere thanks,
Managing Editor SciStarter Blog Network
Discover Magazine “Citizen Science Salon”, PLoS “Cit Sci”
By Arvind Suresh (Editor) November 10th, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Comment
Project Image Credits (In order): GoViral, DOD, Wildlife Data Integration Network, Clumpy, Wikimedia Commons
By Arvind Suresh (Editor) November 6th, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Comment 1
Editors Note: This is a guest post by Gwen Ottinger, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Drexel University. She has done extensive research on community-based air monitoring and community-industry relations around oil refineries. She is author of Refining Expertise: How Responsible Engineers Subvert Environmental Justice Challenges (NYU Press 2013).
A study released last week in the journal Environmental Health breaks new ground in our understanding of the environmental effects of fracking—and shows the power that citizen science can have in advancing scientific research and promoting political action.
Unconventional oil and gas (UOG) production, including hydraulic fracturing (fracking), can affect water and air quality. Researchers, including citizen scientists, have studied its impacts on water extensively. But we don’t know a lot about how air quality is affected, especially in nearby residential areas, according to the study, “Air concentrations of volatile compounds near oil and gas production.” Part of the problem is where most academic researchers take samples. Too often, they choose monitoring locations based on the requirements of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, which look for regional, not local, effects of pollution. When looking at air quality around UOG production operations, they may select sites opportunistically, based on where they can gain access or where they can find electricity for their monitoring equipment. This approach, however, may not produce data that is representative of the actual impact of fracking on air quality.
The recently released study pioneers a new approach to choosing sites for air quality monitoring: it mobilizes citizens to identify the areas where sampling was most likely to show the continuous impact of fracking emissions. Citizens chose places in their communities where they noticed a high degree of industrial activity, visible emissions, or health symptoms that could be caused by breathing toxic chemicals. They took samples themselves, following rigorous protocols developed by non-profit groups working in conjunction with regulatory agencies and academic researchers.
The result – we now have a lot more evidence to show that UOG production can have a big impact on local air quality. And, as a result of citizens’ involvement in selecting sampling sites, scientists and regulators now have a better idea of where to look to start studying those impacts systematically.
The study demonstrates once again the power of citizen science to improve scientific research. But it also shows the political power of citizen science. In a companion report released by the non-profit Coming Clean, the study’s citizen-authors use their finding that air quality is significantly affected by UOG to argue that governments need to be cautious when issuing permits, and to call for more extensive monitoring that includes citizen scientists.
Next week, several of the study’s authors—and many other citizen scientists—will convene in New Orleans to cultivate the scientific and political power of citizen science. At the Community-based Science for Action Conference, November 15-17, citizens dedicated to protecting their community’s environment and health will have the chance to try out new technologies for environmental monitoring, share best practices for successful collaboration between scientists and citizens, and learn about the legal and political issues where their science can make a difference.
Want to get involved? Registration is still open at the conference’s website. Can’t attend but want to support your fellow citizen scientists? Consider making a donation to help send someone else to New Orleans.