Archive for the ‘Science Cheerleader’ tag

Join SciStarter and the Science Cheerleaders at the Bay Area Science Festival!

By October 19th, 2016 at 12:32 pm | Comment


November 5th, 2016


AT&T Park


Join SciStarter at the Bay Area Science Festival this November! This free festival will be packed with science enthusiasts. Come to explore hundreds of hands-on activities, opportunities to meet local scientists and engineers, plus fun and educational entertainment.

Find SciStarter to learn about citizen science projects you can do in the Bay Area and beyond. We’ll be getting you set to look for ZomBees, monitor migrating butterflies, band local birds, and even learn about finding exoplanets!

From 10am-12pm, we will be joined by Kayla and Anelisse from the 49ers Gold Rush squad who are also STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals. Come learn how they found a love for science and turned it into a career.


I have obtained my Bachelors in Psychology, Masters in Sport Psychology and am currently in graduate school working toward my Doctorate (PsyD) in Clinical Psychology. I intend to utilize my degrees and pursue a career as a sport psychologist specifically working with dancers and football players. Sport psychology is an interdisciplinary science that draws upon various fields such as, biomechanics, physiology, kinesiology and psychology. Sport psychology ultimately focuses on how psychological factors influences the way an individual performs. The role of a sport psychologist is to clinically diagnose and treat a client through therapeutic tools and performance enhancement techniques.”




anelissec01b9620 Anelisse

“In high school, I loved environmental science and created a study to manage water quality in my hometown. I was also the first female student to exhaust our advanced math and science program! In college, I studied mechanical engineering, which relies on physics for analysis!  I got to take principles I learned from physics and chemistry and apply them one step further to study (and also create!) objects that exist in the real world. I’m now working at a software company, which focuses on computer science.”






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

By 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 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.”

My 10-year citizen science journey.

By December 23rd, 2015 at 12:41 pm | Comment

darlene bill nye

Earlier this month, I had the immense honor  of sharing the stage with Bill Nye and some fascinating thought leaders in space exploration from academia and industry, thanks to the leaders at Arizona State University’s New Space. We talked about colonizing Mars, mining asteroids, women in STEM and more. Amid all the exciting, forward-looking discussions, bolstered by the super-pumped-up audience of 3500 ASU students, I couldn’t help but think about the voice we needed to hear as we imagined YOUR place in space: YOUR voice. A decade ago, YOUR voice (and your tax dollars, your values, your informed opinions) would have been represented by your elected officials, or the noisiest advocacy groups, or industry.

I know this because exactly 10 years ago, I was wrapping up my master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania where I spent a lot of time learning about people like me, like us: people who are interested in science, who want to be part of science–of discovery, of shaping the future–but who don’t hold formal science degrees.
family graduation
The degree from Penn wasn’t what motivated me. I went back to school after a decade of working at Discover Magazine (and, believe or not, after a few years as an NBA cheerleader!) so I could learn more about my role in science and society. Where does someone without a formal science degree fit in? For all the investment in time and money we give to K-12 STEM education, what are we doing to support the majority of those kids who don’t go to college or, if they do, who choose non-STEM careers?

What are we doing to take seriously the fact that, while our nation’s students rank low on international STEM exams, year after year, our nation’s adults (US) fair exceptionally well when compared to our peers in other countries? This must seem impossible. How can that be when our country has resisted scientifically sound issues such as climate change, vaccines, GMOs and stem cell research? Because the resistance stems from all the factors that shape science and science policy: values, economics, personal benefits, etc. Teaching people more science via the all-too-common deficit approach does not work.

How do we start real conversations with–and tap the talents and interests of–adults who have demonstrated that they/we like science? Did you know that more Americans visit science museums, zoos and aquariums than sports events? I didn’t…read more about this here. What are we doing to support us and enable us to be part of these conversations we are absolutely every bit entitled to be part of, NOW?

Well, almost immediately upon starting graduate school, I learned about citizen science. This is often described as crowdsourcing, community science, or public participation in scientific research. It usually takes the form of a scientist asking the public to share observations or analyze data to help advance areas of research.

I couldn’t wait to jump in and participate in formal and informal research projects in need of my help! Back then, it was difficult to find these opportunities. This is how SciStarter emerged. It was a very simple, searchable database embedded in a blog called Science Cheerleader, created to help me organize projects I was going to write about in my Capstone paper. I invited people to add projects or find projects. Before too long, this database spawned its own start up, featuring 1100 projects and a community of more than 50,000 citizen scientists.

Today, SciStarter’s database is shared with Discover Magazine, Astronomy Magazine, the National Science Teachers Association, the U.N., PBS, AllForGood, and many other partners. Thanks to support from the Simons Foundation, anyone can add citizen science to their website via simple to use, embeddable widgets. We are coPIs of research projects; universities and agencies hire us to organize and manage projects and participants; we have a syndicated blog network and a series on an NPR radio station. We’re really happy with developments at SciStarter.

BUT, most of these projects either invite people to share observations about the natural world or analyze big data. Very few offer people the opportunity to impart their local knowledge, values, insights, etc, directly to inform science policy.
Things are starting to change a bit thanks to the efforts of a LOT of people spanning many fields, motives, and generations.

Ten years ago, I started pushing to reopen the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), which I thought had the most potential to bring together the public and scientists in shaping science policy. While interviewing experts to learn more about the rise and fall of the OTA, I found some soulmates-of-sorts and five years later our merry band of renegades officially organized.


Dr. Richard Sclove (left of me, pictured here with the cofounders of ECAST) wrote in Issues in Science and Technology, why it was high-time to formalize a mechanism to invite non-experts to both learn about and weigh in on the societal implications of emerging technologies and their related policies. Check out his essay:Reinventing_Tech_Assessment_-_Sclove_in_Issues_in_S&T_-_Fall_2010-1 

Earlier that same year,  Dr. Sclove, the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, Boston Museum of Science, Arizona State University, and I (as the Science Cheerleader and founder of what would become SciStarter), joined forces to launch the first-of-its-kind effort in the U.S. to realize this vision: ECAST, Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology. Read more on this, here. ECAST is taking the best of the defunct OTA and spicing things up by borrowing best practices from successful participatory technology assessment activities in the European Union.

Last year, ECAST worked with NASA to inform and then solicit input from people from all walks of life, to better understand what important questions were missing from science policy considerations. People involved in those deliberations sure had a lot to add to the conversations. I encourage you to read more about the effort and outcomes of Informing NASA’s Asteroid Initiative. You’ll see that space exploration-the future- is complex and absolutely needs your perspective. Thanks to forward-thinking Federal agencies, like NASA, NOAA and others with an authentic interest in soliciting informed input from YOU, ECAST is able to experiment with mechanisms to unite the public with policymakers and scientists.

Looking ahead, the SciStarter team wants to see more opportunities spanning a wider spectrum of engagement levels, like those we organize at ECAST. We want to help more people find and get involved in all of these opportunities. We want to help you keep track of your contributions and maybe even be rewarded for your efforts. Why not? Maybe you didn’t finish high school. Maybe you earned an advanced degree in business or the arts. You connected with science later in life (like me!). You had the courage to move from spectator to participant. Why shouldn’t your contributions be validated and rewarded with college credit or career advancements or a free cup of coffee from Starbucks? 🙂

These are the types of questions we will start to address thanks to support from the National Science Foundation. The NSF awarded a $300,000 Pathways grant to Arizona State University’s Center for Engagement and Training in Science and Society (of which I am a proud Professor of Practice!) for the development of SciStarter 2.0. The grant will advance the growing field of citizen and community science and help us build the capacity to be able to start to test some theories while scaling up our ability to engage and support more citizen scientists.

SciStarter 2.0 team at our kick off meeting last week

SciStarter 2.0 team at our kick off meeting earlier this month

So, now that government and the scientific community have stepped up to the plate to welcome you with open arms and now that SciStarter (and others!) have made it very easy for you to get involved, the question is, will you accept the invitation? Make 2016 the year you accept the challenge. Do a citizen science project. Go to a science festival or science cafe. Get involved in an ECAST project.

You’ve got 300 Science Cheerleaders (including me) rooting for you and ready to support you!

Science Cheerleaders break Guinness World Record for largest cheer (cheered for science!).

Science Cheerleaders break Guinness World Record for largest cheer (cheered for science!).

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.