Citizen Science Mapping

By Guest March 3rd, 2016 at 11:06 am | Comment

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Photo: USFWS

Maps are used for more than just navigation these days. The citizen science projects highlighted below use maps to study topics ranging from wildlife to hydrology.

You can find even more mapping projects via the SciStarter Project Finder.

Cheers!

The SciStarter Team

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Words with (Citizen Science) Friends

By Editorial Team February 19th, 2016 at 8:26 pm | Comment

wordleLanguage is a critical component of our lives so our editors are excited to share their favorite “word” projects from the SciStarter Project Finder!

Check out these top notch word projects in need of your help!

Cheers!

The SciStarter Team

 

 

iopSmithsonian Transcription Center

The Smithsonian and the National Museum of Natural History need your help to transcribe online text from historical notebooks and specimen records, from the comfort of your home. Get started!

 

 

lmpVerbCorner

To help make computers understand human languages, scientists first need to know how our words are given meaning. If you have a few minutes (or more) you can participate in this fun project contributing to linguistics and artificial intelligence. Get started!

 

 

mcpMark2Cure

Do you enjoy reading about science? If so, then this is the project for you! Find key words and phrases in research papers to help scientists study NGLY1, a rare genetic disorder.
Get started! 

 

nnNotes from Nature

Transcribing museum and herbarium records is essential to preserve the knowledge gained over the past few centuries. By transcribing these important records online, you can contribute to research and boost your own personal education!  Get started!

 

itIgnore That!

How easily distracted are you? Can you stay focused when presented with lots of information and noise? Participation in this project takes only 5 minutes, and you’ll contribute to research on language and thought processes (and get to know more about yourself!).
Get started!

 

csdNational Citizen Science Day!

SciStarter is a proud partner of National Citizen Science Day, presented by the Citizen Science Association. This celebration kicks off on April 16 and runs through May 21, 2016. Hundreds of events will be held throughout the country, and you can find them here.

Have your own event? Use the “Add an Event” form to post your event on this official Citizen Science Day event calendar!

 

Categories: Citizen Science

Citizen Science Galore at the USA Science & Engineering Festival Booth #3523

By Darlene Cavalier February 19th, 2016 at 11:43 am | Comment

SciStarter, Science Cheerleader, Astronomy Magazine, and Discover Magazine exhibit will kick off events in celebration of Citizen Science Day with Public TV’s The Crowd & The Cloud!

Washington, DC – (February 15, 2016) – Celebrate Citizen Science at the USA Science & Engineering Festival (USASEF) by doing fun activities that will contribute to meaningful research on the environment, genetics, biology and more. Visit booth # 3523 to learn what citizen science is, and how to do interesting projects at home using the SciStarter website. At the booth you’ll meet experts and editors from Astronomy Magazine, Discover Magazine, and the upcoming public television series The Crowd & The Cloud. You can participate in research with scientists who will join us. Meet members of the Science Cheerleader group (current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders pursuing science and technology careers) who will perform science-themed routines, talk to kids about their dual careers as scientists and professional cheerleaders, sign autographs and lead citizen science activities selected from SciStarter.  

If you can’t attend the Festival in person, go online to join a live Google Hangout (url will be shared via Twitter @SciStarter and #CitSciDay)  with USASEF attendees to participate in a discussion with citizen science participants/enthusiasts from across the U.S. and around the world. The Hangout will be led by former NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati, Host of The Crowd & The Cloud, and participants include Darlene Cavalier, Founder of SciStarter and Science Cheerleader, and a Professor at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Science in Society.

The hangout will showcase events from the country in celebration of National Citizen Science Day! SciStarter is a proud partner of National Citizen Science Day, presented by the Citizen Science Association. This celebration kicks off at the USASEF on April 16 and runs through May 21, 2016. Hundreds of events will be held throughout the country, and you can find them here.  

Citizen Science Projects Featured at USASEF

FaceTopo: Help scientists build a taxonomy of the world’s adult (14+) faces by taking a 3D selfie at the USASEF and posting it to the Facetopo database! FaceTopo will map, measure, quantify, and compare a huge variety of human facial morphology to increase understanding of variation in human facial phenotypes.

Genetics and Smell Chemistry: According to the Monell Center two individuals’ smell perception differs by 30% due to a variation in the olfactory receptor gene OR10G4. You and your child can step right on up to our booth, take a whiff of a smelly cotton ball, and together, we’ll help researchers catalog the variations of smell perception from parent to child to better understand the degree of olfactory perception variation through inheritable DNA changes.

NASA’s Soil Moisture: NASA’s SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive) satellite is orbiting the globe every three days to measure soil moisture levels. NASA and GLOBE.gov need your help ground-truthing the data, in part, to help calibrate the accuracy of NASA’s satellite mission. This will improve weather forecasts, detail water/energy/carbon cycles, monitor droughts, predict floods, and assist crop productivity.We’ll show you how to obtain the instruments needed for this project, and how to get started!

The Great Sunflower Project: The Great Sunflower Project uses data collected on Lemon Queen sunflowers to examine the effects of pesticides on pollinators, identify the key plants to support healthy pollinator communities, and evaluate and improve gardens, parks and other green spaces for pollinators. Pick up your free pack of sunflower seeds and spend a few minutes with us to learn how to observe your new sunflower plant for five minutes to record and share information about all the pollinators that visit.

ZomBee Watch: Scientists believe that the Zombie Fly, Apocephalus borealis, is parasitizing honey bees. Help researchers determine where honey bees are being parasitized by the Zombie Fly. You’ll learn to spot infected bees (we’ll show you what that nasty Zombie Fly looks like in person!), build your own bee catcher, and report observations to this project.

 

Importance of Citizen Science to Society

Science is our most reliable system for gaining new knowledge and citizen science is the public involvement in inquiry, data collection, and the discovery of new scientific knowledge. A citizen science project can involve one person or millions of people collaborating towards a common goal. SciStarter’s website connects scientists and community leaders to more than 1,100 citizen science projects and anyone wishing to contribute to science research.

 

About the Partners in Citizen Science Booth #3523

SciStarter connects people to real science they can do by making it easy for people to find and join projects from its dynamic database featuring more than 1100 citizen science projects, events and tools!

Discover Magazine’s mission is to enable readers to lead richer lives by explaining and expanding their universe. Each month they publish in-depth information and analysis on various topics ranging from technology and space to the living world. Astronomy Magazine contains the most absorbing material relating to the world of astronomy on every page.  

Science Cheerleader works with more than 300 current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders who playfully challenge stereotypes, inspire kids to consider careers in science and technology, and encourage everyday people to get involved in real science activities.

The upcoming public TV science documentary series, The Crowd & The Cloud (Spring 2017), presents stories of citizen science, crowdsourcing and community science from across America and around the world. Some are classic and decades-old, such as the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. Others are just starting: like Smartfin, which is partnering with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to add hi-tech sensors to surfboards to track ocean acidification. These and many other projects come to life through engaging human stories, with C&C’s online and social media designed to help “turn viewers into active citizen scientists.”

Citizen Science Love: a Valentine’s Weekend Special!

By Editorial Team February 11th, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Comment

Who needs chocolate, cards, roses, or a significant other, when you can celebrate Valentine’s Day with citizen science?

Below you’ll find five projects we love. Visit SciStarter to find 1000 more.

PS: If you have 30 seconds, consider taking this quick poll. We’re curious to learn more about the formal education level of the citizen science community.

Cheers!

The SciStarter Team

 

The Great Backyard Bird Count gbbc

This annual bird count runs from February 12th to 16th this year, and it’s open to anyone in the world. Simply pick a location (such as your backyard!) and count the birds that you see for at least 15 minutes; by participating and reporting your data you’ll contribute to our understanding of birds across the globe. Get started!

 

 

Beats Per Life rdll

Is there a correlation between heart rate and lifespan? Help researchers find out by looking through published research results to compare the resting heart rates of all types of animals. Get started!

 

 

 

Snow Tweets st

When it snows in your area, stick a ruler in the snow and tweet your location along with the snow depth. Your data will be added to a real-time worldwide map of snow depth which will help scientists calibrate the accuracy of satellite instruments.  Get started!

Bonus! The SciStarter team will join Discover Magazine, Astronomy Magazine and the Science Cheerleaders at the AAAS Family Science Days in Washington, DC February 13th and 14th. This free event is open to the public! We’ll give away rulers with Snow Tweets instructions to help you get started.

 

Health eHeart heh

Want to help fight heart disease? By completing a simple online survey about your health and behavior, you can contribute to our understanding of heart health.  Get started!

 

 

 

Baby CROINC bbc

Create a diary for your child and harness crowd wisdom to predict and improve her/his development. This project is part of an international scientific effort to understand the way children grow.
Get started!

The gamification of data analysis in cancer increases citizen contribution and reduces research time

By Carolyn Graybeal February 11th, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Comment

Individuals diagnosed with muscle-invasive bladder cancer face a difficult treatment decision – intensive radiotherapy or complete surgical removal of their bladder. Each option has benefits and draw backs, and there are limited data available to patients and physicians to help predict which treatment might provide the best outcome.

Dr. Anne Kiltie, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at Oxford University and Clinical Group Leader at Cancer Research UK (CRUK) is trying to improve that decision making process. She is investigating whether proteins involved in DNA damage signaling and repair might serve as biological indicators, or ‘biomarkers’, predictive of a patient’s response to treatment.

In 2010 her team published data showing that higher levels of the DNA repair protein MRE11 correlated with better survival rates in bladder cancer patients who had undergone radiotherapy. This was a critical finding suggesting that MRE11 could be a treatment predictive biomarker. Unfortunately the finding relied on time consuming pathology analysis. Bladder tumor samples are sliced, labeled for each protein of interest and photographed. While the staining and imaging of these slices can be automated, each image must be manually quantified for the level of protein present. Computer algorithms are not yet as reliable as the human eye. So to study just one protein, Kiltie’s team must individually score hundreds of images, a major time sink.

Of course if there was a way to get more people involved, the research could proceed much faster.

And this is the basis of Reverse the Odds, a mobile app game in which citizens help with real data analysis. The game was the result of CRUK’s partnership with British television broadcaster Channel 4 and developed in collaboration with Chunk, Maverick Television, and Zooniverse.

“Developing this game was a new experience for both our researchers and the game developers,” says Rupesh Robinson-Vyas, Science Engagement and Operations Officer at CRUK. The development team had some key concerns.  Could a game that dealt with a serious topic like cancer still be approachable and fun? And could the data analysis be gamified without compromising the quality of analysis?

Yes and yes.

The final product is a puzzle game in which players help whimsical creatures, ‘Odds’ reclaim their world. Rather than hide the science, the game developers put the science front and center. To level up, players visit the ‘lab’ where they learn to quantify protein expression in real bladder tumor samples. All the samples are from patients who have already undergone treatment. Players are not diagnosing patients.

Each image is reviewed by multiple players, with each player’s response being compared to other players’ responses. In this way discrepancies in analysis are weeded out. After the images are quantified, the data are sent back to Kiltie’s team who compare the level of protein expression to the patient’s known outcome. img2

Not only has the game cut down on data processing time, Kiltie’s team can concurrently evaluate the expression level of multiple proteins. This means the relationships between proteins, how they might work together to affect treatment outcome can also be studied.

As for the seriousness of the subject matter, rather than a deterrent, the science and the potential to make a significant contribution to cancer research is a strong motivator for game play.

“It was an unexpected outcome. The game allowed us to engage a younger age group, individuals who might not be able to contribute financially, could instead contribute their time,” says Robinson-Vyas. The game has been a huge success, translated into five languages, with an international reach of 150 countries.

CRUK is testing new methods of training and presenting pathology data to users. “Rather than asking our users just one question, the new interactive will teach us how to ask questions and identify what kind of data our users can help us collect,” says Robinson-Vyas.  Results with citizen scientists matching pathologist’s accuracy in data analysis are encouraging; CRUK is writing a paper on these methods and plans to test further iterations.

As for Reverse the Odds, Kiltie’s team hopes to complete data collection this spring. Her team intends to make the results as well as background on game development openly available.

Visit the project page to learn more about Reverse the Odds and join the effort help Kiltie’s team analyze the final 500,000 slides by March.

Learn about CRUK’s other project Play to Cure: Genes in Space

Additional Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20843819

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24625413

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26288840