Archive for the ‘science’ tag
Drag your bones on over to our favorite, spooky research projects just in time for Halloween.
Where is my Spider?
Share your photos of spiders. When we understand where spiders are living today, we will be better able to predict what may happen to spiders and agriculture in the future. Get started!
Help researchers find out where honey bees are being parasitized by the Zombie Fly and how big a threat the fly is to honey bees. Get started!
Dark Sky Meter
Combine your trick or treating with scientific data collection! The Dark Sky Meter (available for iPhones) allows citizen scientists to contribute to a global map of nighttime light pollution. Get started!
Send Us Your Skeletons!
Are you a recreational fisher in Western Australia?Send your fish skeletons to the Department of Fisheries Western Australia. Learn why and get started here!
This online citizen science project from Zooniverse invites you to take part in wildlife conservation by listening to and identifying recordings of bat calls collected all over the world. Get started!
SciStarter is partnering up with WHYY, a National Public Radio station, to help share stories about citizen science projects and people in PA, NJ and DE. If you have a story to share, contact Lily@SciStarter.com.
If you’d like your citizen science project featured on SciStarter, email email@example.com
If you’re on the west coast, you won’t want to miss the Science and Tech Forum: Los Angeles. It takes place this weekend from 9/28 to 9/29 and features a robust lineup of speakers from various science backgrounds.
What’s unique about this conference is that it allows the attendees to set the agenda and organize sessions. This “unconference” format allows attendees to organize talks about current issues in science; presentations of new technologies; working groups for ideas previously discussed in forums; or anything else you can imagine!
You can take a sneak peek at the agenda.
Can’t make it in person? Livestream the event from 9AM PT / 12PM ET onward.
If you have any additional questions, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
SciStarter has a whole round-up of tree-related projects for you this season. Branch out into citizen science!
Walking around my neighborhood the other day, I was casually observing the local flora when I was struck by the redness of one particular set of leaves. While the tree pictured is not the exact one I spied upon, look at how vibrant these colors are! I began to wonder why this tree turned red while the others around it stayed orange and yellow. To begin, we must learn about why autumn leaves deviate from their greener shades in the first place.
As you probably already know, the color that most plants have is derived from chlorophyll, the yellow-green pigment found in chloroplasts responsible for allowing photosynthesis to take place. If you’ve forgotten how this process works, Crash Course Biology has a great video for this. While there are multiple forms of chlorophyll, it is generally true that most reflect green light, causing for plants to appear the way they do. (This raises the even better question of why aren’t plants black, but that deserves its own post.)
So, what happens to the chlorophyll as we approach the cooler months? When the temperature drops, deciduous plants slow the production of chlorophyll in preparation for the dormant period they will undergo during the winter. The plants will then be able to conserve energy by halting all photosynthetic processes during the lack of available sunlight. As this happens, orange and yellow carotenoids present in the leaves are exposed. These are pigments that are normally produced in leaves that help to absorb additional energy from the sun that is passed along to the chlorophyll and also to prevent auto-oxidation (basically the wear down of cells due to free radicals) from occurring. In addition to all of this, the plant begins to produce a cell wall between the stem and the leaf called an abscission layer. This will eventually cause for the leaf to be completely separated from the plant, allowing for it to fall to the ground.
Okay. We’ve covered green, orange, and yellow, but what produced the scarlet beauty found above and why doesn’t it occur in all trees? The answer is anthocyanins. If you’ve ever eaten a blueberry, raspberry, pomegranate, or any other fruit that can stain your hands and clothes, you’re probably already familiar with these little molecules. These pigments are similar to the carotenoids mentioned above but serve a different purpose. In cases during the late summer when plants are beginning to slow their photosynthetic processes but there is still plenty of sunlight abound, the leaves can actually be harmed by receiving too much high-intensity light in the region of Photosystem II (photoinhibition). In order to prevent this damage, the plant begins to synthesize anthocyanins to permeate through the leaves’ surfaces. Because of its red color, the pigment absorbs a large amount of the high energy visible and ultraviolet photons striking the plant, basically acting as a “plant sunscreen.” (Check out how you can even build your own anthocyanin-based solar cell!) Additionally, anthocyanins are good indicators of plant stressors including freezing temperatures and low nutrient levels.
Next time you see a particularly red tree, make sure to think about its environment! Does it receive an abundance of light? Has it been particularly cold? Feel free to comment with links to your own pictures of vibrant trees and plants!
Just like leaves, citizen science also happens to grow on trees! Don’t believe us? Check out our tree projects round-up!
Photo: Public Domain Pictures, Wikipedia
This was a guest post by Joe Diaz, a science educator and enthusiast. Follow @RealJoeDiaz. View the original post.
Think you’re safe in your pools this summer? You better double check! This invasive species has been taking over the mid-Atlantic region of the east coast. Contributor Nick Fordes gives us the scoop.
I am always pleasantly surprised by the creativity of new citizen science projects. Not only are projects using the power of crowdsourcing in unique ways, but they often integrate parts of our daily lives with opportunities to engage in science. For example, there are citizen science projects that let you count road kill on your daily commute, take light measurements with your phone in your backyard, or even record videos of you and your dog playing!
A new project even lets you do citizen science while swimming in your pool. All you have to do is check your pool filters once a week for a particularly interesting creature, the Asian Longhorned Beetle. The Annual Asian Longhorned Beetle Swimming Pool Survey is run by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and needs your help this summer (through August 30, 2013) to identify the beetles that end up in your pool. Why? The Asian Longhorned Beetle is an invasive species and is actually responsible for killing a large amount of trees throughout many Eastern states.
While the Asian Longhorned Beetle is not as much of a widespread threat as its friends the Western Pine Bark Beetle, it is harder for researchers to survey their numbers as the infected trees are not easily identifiable like the brown, leafless victims of the Pine Bark Beetle. And, unfortunately, one of the most common ways of eradicating the beetle is to kill the infested trees.
Signing up for the project is easy, and once you show interest, you will be sent identification materials and instructions on how to take pictures of your beetles and preserve the specimens for collection. You don’t even need a pool to participate! The project even has education materials so you can learn more about the Asian Longhorned Beetle.
Citizen science pioneers creative ways in which to use what is available to create engaging projects that are also economical. In this case–a network of natural, watery bug traps help motivated citizen scientists looking for a way to cool off and contribute to some essential research.
Nick Fordes is a science enthusiast who enjoys doing, teaching, and communicating science. Nick recently graduated from the University of Idaho with an M.S. in Water Resources. His research involved creating a web-based participatory GIS application for use in watershed management. He has a true love for technology and appreciation for what the web-based communications can do for promoting science and increasing science literacy. Nick most recently worked with the Council for Environmental Education, developing K-12 environmental science based curriculum. In his spare time, Nick enjoys biking the bayous in Houston and fishing as often as he can. He has been known to use his scientific knowledge to make a pretty mean brisket.
Calling all water monitoring groups! It is time for the annual Secchi Dip-In. From now until July 22, volunteer and professional water monitoring groups are being asked to take transparency measurements in a local body of water.
A secchi disk is a common tool for measuring water turbidity, or water cloudiness. Turbidity is caused by small particles suspended in the water and is a reflection of water quality. To take turbidity measurements, on a calm and bright day the user lowers the disk into the water until the disk is no longer visible. The depth of the disk is used to calculate turbidity. Land erosion from construction or mining, pollution run-off or increases in algae all lead to higher turbidity.
Started in 1994 at Kent State University, Ohio, the Dip-In always takes place during the first few weeks of July. Participants only have to take one transparency per body of water with their secchi disk. The project helpfully provides links for purchasing disks if you do not already have one.
While project organizers prefer that measurements are taken during the “official” dip-in period, participants are welcome to add data from anytime of the year as well as past years. Currently over 2,000 water bodies are being tracked, most of which are in North America. The data are accessible to anybody interested.
In addition to transparency measurements, participants are asked to give their general impressions of the water quality as well as the area’s general aesthetics and recreational properties. These qualitative data help project researchers ascertain the potential sources affecting water quality.
To learning more or to participate, visit Secchi Dip-In.
Find other environmental projects (and over 600+ other citizen science projects) using our Project Finder.
Dr. Carolyn Graybeal earned her PhD in neuroscience from Brown University in partnership with the National Institutes of Health. After graduating, she became a Christian Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Fellow with the National Academies of Science where she had the opportunity to immerse herself in the policy side of science. In addition the human brain, she is interested in the influence of education and mass media in society’s understanding of science. Originally from California, she is learning to identify the four seasons of the East Coast and is getting pretty good at it.