Archive for the ‘Science Cheerleader’ tag

Understand the science behind a wildly popular, iconic American pastime with The Science of Cheerleading, a new ebook

By August 14th, 2015 at 10:36 am | Comment

Photo Credit: Science Cheerleader

Photo Credit: Science Cheerleader

There’s more science to cheerleading than meets the eye. And for the country’s 3 million cheerleaders, one way to engage with the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concepts is to understand how these fundamental ideas impact their cheerleading. Read the rest of this entry »

Growth Results for Microbes Collected by Citizen Scientists and Grown on the International Space Station

By May 29th, 2015 at 8:12 pm | Comment


patchRelative Growth Rates Documented by UC Davis Scientists for Project MERCCURI

“Encouraging” for Long-Term Manned Spaceflight

Do microbes grow differently on the International Space Station than they do on Earth? Results from the growth of microbes collected by SciStarter’s community of citizen scientists in Project MERCCURI indicate that most behave similarly in both places.

“While this data is extremely preliminary, it is potentially encouraging for long-term manned spaceflight,” said Dr. David Coil, Project Scientist in the Microbiology Lab of Jonathan Eisen at the University of California at Davis. “With this part of Project MERCCURI we hoped to shed light on how microbes associated with the normal, human and built environment behaved in space. Our focus was not on microbes that cause disease, but the many beneficial and neutral microbes that surround us on a daily basis.”

SciStarter and the Science Cheerleaders organized a community of thousands of people across the country to participate in the citizen science portion of the project, gathering samples from built environments such as chairs, doors, railings… even the Liberty Bell. Then the “microbiology team” in the laboratory at UC Davis grew up and examined hundreds of microbes. The team selected 48 microbes, which, with approval from NASA, rode the SpaceX Falcon 9 to the Space Station for further research. Of those 48, only a handful grew at all differently in Space, and the difference was significant for only one: Bacillus safensis. This microbe was collected on a Mars Exploration Rover (before it was launched) at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. It grew significantly better on the Space Station.

“We observed that the vast majority of the microbes we examined behaved the same on the Space Station as they do on Earth. In the few cases where we observed a microbe behaving differently in space than on Earth, we’d love to follow that up with further experiments,” said Dr. Coil.

In addition to comparing growth rates on Earth and the Space Station, UC Davis identified winners in three different categories for the “Microbial Playoffs” in space.

Best Huddle: the microbe that grew to the highest density, packing cells into the space allowed

  • Yuri’s Night, Los Angeles: Kocuria rhizophila was collected on a camera at a Yuri’s Night Party with Buzz Aldrin (the second person to walk on the moon).
  • San Antonio Spurs: Kocuria kristinae was collected on the court after a San Antonio Spurs game.
  • Discover Magazine: Micrococcus yunnanensis, collected from a dictionary at the offices of Discover Magazine.

Best Tipoff: the microbial competitor that took off growing like crazy from the start

  • Pop Warner Chittenango: Bacillus pumilus was collected on a Porta-Potty handle by Pop Warner Chittenango Bears cheerleaders.
  • Smithsonian Air & Space Museum: Pantoea eucrina was collected on the Mercury Orbitor at the Smithsonian Museum of Air and Space.
  • Pop Warner Saints: Bacillus horikoshii was collected on a football field by Pop Warner Saints cheerleaders from Port Reading, NJ.

Best Sprint: the microbe that grew the fastest during the sprinting portion of growth (technically known as the “exponential growth phase”)

  • Oakland Raiders: Bacillus aryabhatti was collected on a practice football field used by the Oakland Raiders.
  • Pop Warner Chittenango: Bacillus pumilus was collected on a Porta-Potty handle by Pop Warner Chittenango Bears cheerleaders.
  • Mars Exploration Rover (JPL): Paenibacillus elgii, collected from a Mars Exploration Rover before launch (2004) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL- NASA, Pasadena, CA).

Find rankings of all 48 samples in these three growth categories on the Results page at the Space Microbes web site.

Other elements of Project MERCCURI are still in process. In addition to overseeing the microbial playoffs, astronauts also collected microbes on the Space Station and sent those back to Earth. The UC Davis team has analyzed the data from those and are preparing a scientific publication on the results. In addition, members of the public contributed 3,000 cell phone and shoe samples for an ongoing analysis of which microbes live where, and how that compares to the ISS.

“With this project, thousands of people contributed to research on the Space Station and at UC Davis, one of the leading microbiology research labs in the country,” said Darlene Cavalier, Founder of SciStarter and Science Cheerleader, which led the microbe collection effort. “Our goal is to spur even more people to get involved in significant science. Whether someone is a child or an adult, is interested in space or the ocean, in biology or chemistry, in the climate or computers – scientists are working on research and development that would benefit from more participation.” Learn about and sign up to help with more research projects at .

Project MERCCURI is coordinated by Science Cheerleader (current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders pursuing science and technology careers), SciStarter, and UC Davis, in conjunction with the Argonne National Laboratory. The Project is made possible by Space Florida, NanoRacks, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.



First open-source satellite project puts citizen science sensors in space.

By June 17th, 2012 at 8:39 am | Comment

What would you do if you had one week to control a research satellite?

That probably depends on who you are. Amateur photographers might want to take time-lapse photos of the moon to frame in series in their living room. University researchers might want to measure levels of ozone variation on earth across earth’s latitudes. A high school teacher might want to set up the ultimate class project to challenge their students to be real scientists. There might even be someone brave enough to beam down a cosmic marriage proposal!

The great news is that all of these possibilities can become realities with the ArduSat Project.

When I first heard of the ambitious nature of the project I was admittedly a little weary. But, after seeing the amount of initial support and the details of how the project will be funded and carried out, I now believe that the ArduSat Project is an amazingly unique and innovative way for the public to become involved in actual space exploration.

A partnership between Nanosatisfi, SciStarter, Science Cheerleader, and Discover Magazine is helping to launch the effort, gain initial support, and get the word out.

Image of the ArduSat Online Control Center where you can view the location and current camera views in real-time.

Image of the ArduSat Online Control Center where you can view the location and current camera views in real-time.

The ArduSat (Arduino Satellite) utilizes state of the art Arduino Processors to process data from over 25 sensors, all housed within a 10cm x 10cm x 10cm CubeSat miniature satellite. Participants will be able to collaborate with others to formulate, test, and ultimately deploy publicly designed applications to run experiments.

What makes this all possible is a unique funding plan set up through the project’s Kickstarter Campaign. The campaign site also has all the information you will need to get started with the project. As with any Kickstarter project, based on the amount you pledge, you are rewarded with increasingly enticing awards. Rewards start at very reasonable pledge amounts and include chances to have satellite photos sent right to your email inbox, development packages to design advanced Arduino based applications, and reserved satellite time to run experiments.

The Kickstarter campaign ends July 15th and has a goal of $35,000 – so hurry and reserve your spot! Plus, Discover is running a contest until July 6th, to determine the application with the most innovative use of ArduSat. The grand prize is the $1,500 advanced sensor package and a full week to run your experiment. All you have to do to enter is join the campaign at the $1 level! This is an outstanding opportunity to challenge your science class, friends, and fellow space buffs to come together and be handsomely rewarded for inventive ideas.

The possibilities with this project are truly endless, allowing citizen scientists all over the world a amazing opportunity to engage in space exploration. So let your imagination run wild and get involved!

Be sure to follow all the action on Twitter with @scistarter, @discovermag, and @nanosatisfi.

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!

Citizen Science Cheerleaders Head To Vegas

By September 9th, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Comment

Science Cheerleaders

Meet the Science Cheerleaders. This team of more than 100 NFL and NBA cheerleaders-turned-scientists and engineers is ready to cheer for citizen science., our sister-site, aims to inspire the 3 million little cheerleaders in the U.S. to consider careers in science and engineering, while playfully challenge stereotypes and encouraging participation in any of the more than 400 citizen science projects featured on .

The Science Cheerleaders have been featured on CNN, NPR, ESPN, The Scientist, Nature, Science, Discover and more. They are supported by the National Science Foundation, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and others eager to draw more women and minorities to the field of science. They travel the country spreading the gospel of science and citizen science!

Next stop: Vegas. On Saturday, September 10th, 1pm, in Las Vegas, NV, right at the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign! That’s right, VEGAS! Home of our favorite Vegas science super stars, Penn & Teller. Below, you can a cheeky video the Science Cheerleader did with Penn & Teller.

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