Archive for the ‘discover magazine’ tag

Contest unites citizen scientists with DIYers! (Win cool prizes if you enter by Monday!)

By January 17th, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Comment

This post originally appeared on PLOS blogs.

SciStarter, Instructables, and Discover Magazine - Citizen Science Contest

This post was originally published on CitizenSci, a PLOS blog about the projects, people, and perspectives fueling new frontiers for citizen science.

Hear ye, hear ye! This is an open call to artists, engineers, filmmakers, scientists, hobbyists, lobbyists, foodies, gamers, musicians, photogs, techies, adults, kids, dreamers, schemers, hackers, slackers, athletes, and everyone in between. This is a call to all—SciStarter needs you (yes, you)!

In case you haven’t heard yet, SciStarter has partnered with Instructablesand Discover Magazine to help researchers find solutions to real problems that they encounter in their projects. The Citizen Science Contest is your opportunity to help contribute to scientific discovery. (Prizes include a Celestron telescope, DISCOVER subscriptions, and time-lapse cameras!)

We’ve interviewed four citizen science project organizers and asked them to identify the greatest challenges in their work—challenges that you can help them overcome. Perhaps you’re a seasoned gardener and have tips for The Great Sunflower Project on how to prevent critters from eating plants before they flower. Have some ideas about how to use odds and ends around the household to construct inexpensive hail pads? The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHs) could use your help! Think your tech savvy is up to par? Maybe you can come up with suggestions for Project Budburst and Wildlife of Our Homes, both of which are looking for ways to improve the way their volunteers record and submit collected data.

Help researchers, in prizes!

The Instructables DIY community spans an unimaginably vast spectrum of disciplines. We’re hoping that this contest will help these citizen science project managers find creative, interdisciplinary solutions that come from outside of the box. We can’t do it alone, though. You can help make their experiences better by submitting a new citizen science project you’ve developed, present a tool that may be used for current/future citizen science projects, or help spark questions they might not have thought of by participating in discussion.

Here’s the thing, though. The contest ends this upcoming Monday, January 21st! If you have some ideas, navigate to the contest page to take a look. The clock is ticking!

Now LIVE! SciStarter Citizen Science Contest with Instructables and Discover Magazine!

By November 16th, 2012 at 11:02 am | Comment

Citizen Science Contest: Submit a solution that makes it easier for people to collaborate with scientists. Win great prizes!Millions of everyday people are helping scientists discover galaxies, measure climate change, track species, monitor air and water pollution, and more through citizen science projects featured on SciStarter. However, like all scientific research, project organizers and participants often run into challenges that can slow progress or limit data collection. Now, you can help!

SciStarter, in partnership with Instructables, and Discover Magazine, invites YOU to come up with solutions to the challenges faced by our community of citizen scientists, researchers and project organizers. Help make their experiences better by coming up with solutions to some real annoyances: stop critters from eating sunflowers planted to observe pollinating bees, help remind volunteers to reset rain gauges and report measurements, link activities to social experiences. Or, dream up your own home-based research project that involves public participation to advance a field of scientific research.

Entries will be accepted on the Instructables Contest Page now through January 21. Winners have a chance to win a variety of prizes listed below.


  • Grand Prize (1 winner): Celestron Telescope, published in an issue of Discover Magazine, subscription to Discover, SciStarter Tshirt, Instructables Prize Pack
  • First Prize (5 winners): Bird Cameras, Timelapse Camera, subscription to Discover, SciStarter Tshirt, Instructables Prize Pack
  • Runners Up (10 winners): Hi capacity rain gauge,subscription to Discover, SciStarter Tshirt, Instructables Prize Pack

The Challenges

To get you started, we’ve listed four specific–and very real–challenges sent to us by project organizers. These problems impact the experience of the participants, and/or the ability of the project to reach its full potential. Select one or more to solve or come up with your own creative solution to a challenge you face as a citizen scientist! If you are the organizer of a citizen science project, you can post your own challenge to your SciStarter Project Page (see “Discussion” tab on the Project Pages). We’ll encourage communities to post their creative solutions to your challenges right on your SciStarter Project Page!

Create inexpensive hail pads

Create a new hail pad!Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) volunteers take and submit measurements of rain, hail, and snow precipitation. These observations are made available for use by the National Weather Service, meteorologists, emergency managers, and others.

The Problem: Hail pads are essential to the CoCoRaHS mission to measure, map, and study hail. Each pad consists of a 12″ by 12″square of Styrofoam covered in Heavy Duty Aluminum foil. However, in recent years, these materials have tripled in cost, which has greatly reduced the number of hail pads that can be produced and distributed.

The Challenge: Create a cheaper hail pad that can measure the number, size, and orientation of hail stones.

Stop critters from eating sunflowers

Stop those critters!The Great Sunflower Project uses data collected by citizen scientists to create an online map of bee populations. Participants grow sunflowers, observe how many bees visit those flowers, and then submit their observations.

The Problem: Critters, like mice and birds, often eat the sunflower seedlings before the bees are able to visit. As a result, some volunteers are unable to collect and submit data.

The Challenge: Create a safe, simple way to ensure the sunflowers are protected from critters and reach maturation.

Help participants submit their data

The more data, the merrier!Project BudBurst engages the public in making careful observations of phenophases, such as first leafing, first flower, and first fruit ripening. Scientists compare this valuable environmental information to historical records and learn about the prevailing climatic characteristics in a region over time.

The Problem: Prospective and current volunteers are often unsure if they have correctly identified plants and phenophases. This may lead to them not submit the data they’ve collected. Other volunteers simply forget to add their data.

The Challenge: Find a way to encourage and remind participants to submit data after making field observations.

Provide 1000 cheap, wireless climate data loggers

Wildlife of your homeWildlife of Our Homes provides an opportunity for citizen scientists to help researchers study the species that live alongside us everyday – bacteria, fungi, and insects. By using a sampling kit and answering a few questions, volunteers help researchers create an atlas of microbial diversity in homes across the country.

The Problem: Project organizers would love to collect climate data in each of the 1000 homes where volunteers are sampling microbes from 4 common surfaces. Unfortunately, climate sensors are expensive, and more importantly, project organizers don’t have an easy way to transfer data from those home sensors (temperature, humidity, etc) to an online database. Currently, they must physically retrieve and download the data.

The Challenge: Find a way to log climate data and wirelessly transmit the data to the project organizers.

Remember to submit ideas for solutions to these and other challenges on the SciStarter Citizen Science Contest Page!

Darlene Cavalier – The Citizen Scientist

By January 16th, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Comment

Darlene Cavalier, founder of SciStarter and Science CheerleaderIn a former life, Darlene Cavalier was a cheerleader for the Philadelphia 76ers. Today, she’s the founder of SciStarter and Science Cheerleader, two websites dedicated to spreading the word that science is something anyone can do (as you know!).

Discover Magazine author, Katie Palmer, recently sat down with Darlene to get the inside scoop on SciStarter and a host of other topics.

What led to the creation of SciStarter? What are Darlene’s favorite citizen science projects? What got her interested in communicating science 
to the public?
 Can hands-on 
activities really help us make sense of the 
complexities of 
climate change?

Read the story to find out!

Measure and record earliest signs of hurricane Irene

By August 26th, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Comment

Satellite imagery of Hurricane Irene on Aug. 26, 2011. U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration photo

Scientists want you to record and share rain measurements and other on-the-ground observations in part to help pinpoint hurricane Irene’s actions, determine her next steps, and better predict and react to future storms. In addition to your help recording on-the-ground rain precipitation, scientists rely on watershed volunteers to provide important clues about the effects of storm-water runoff, carbon cycles of waterways, etc. Here’s a list of opportunities to get involved in local watershed monitoring efforts. To help scientists record on-the-ground rain measurements, you will need a high capacity rain gauge.

Don’t have a rain gauge? Enter here to win a free one so you can join in next time! Through the Changing Planet series, a partnership with National Science Foundation, NBC Learn, and DISCOVER Magazine, we’re offering up to 20 of these gauges to our members, free of charge ($25 value).

(Note: Safety first. Please heed all evacuation recommendations issued in your area. )

Read the rest of this entry »

Meet us at the World Maker Faire in NYC!

By August 1st, 2011 at 4:21 am | Comment 1

Science For Citizens is teaming up with Discover Magazine to help inspire more people to get involved in citizen science activities!
Come get your hands dirty with science at the World Maker Faire in NYC, September 17-18 at the NY Hall of Science.

Organized by the staff of MAKE magazine, and, Maker Faire is a newfangled fair that brings together science, art, craft and engineering plus music in a fun, energized, and exciting public forum. The aim is to inspire people of all ages to roll up their sleeves and become makers. This family-friendly event showcases the amazing work of all kinds of makers – anyone who is embracing the DIY spirit and wants to share their accomplishments with an appreciative audience.

Stop by the Discover Magazine/ booth to:

  • Analyze fossil matrix from a real mastodon fossil excavated in New York.
  • Help researchers measure albedo — how much of the sun’s energy is reflected back from the Earth.
  • And, meet the Science Cheerleaders, NBA and NFL cheerleaders-turned-scientists who will be at the Faire to help encourage people to get involved in citizen science activities and even teach folks how to extract strawberry DNA, over at the BioBus!

Are you a seasoned citizen scientist, looking for a more daring experience? Our friends from Genspace will be teaching PCR and DNA barcoding; Synthetic biology and BioBricks – building new and useful organisms; and Gel Electrophoresis…all of which you’re invited to do. Experience why Discover is featuring Genspace in its September issue.

If you’d like to attend the NYC Maker Faire, here’s information on how to purchase tickets.

We hope to see you at the Maker Faire!

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