Archive for the ‘science’ tag

Coop’s Scoop: 2015 citizen science year in review quiz

By December 24th, 2015 at 7:46 pm | Comments (2)

Looking back on citizen science in 2015, what discoveries stand out to you? Share them in the comment section below. The following Citizen Science Quiz test your knowledge about 10 of the scientific achievements reported in the peer-reviewed literature that were made possible by citizen science. The papers span a wide range of disciplines and were only possible because of thousands of unique and dedicated “volunpeers.”

Test your knowledge of 10 discoveries in 2015 thanks to citizen science!

Citizen Science Quiz – 2015 year in review

In the New Year, stayed tuned and join me (@CoopSciScoop) on Twitter for #CitSciChat, sponsored by SciStarter. #CitSciChat is a global Q&A with guest panelists in a lively conversation covering a variety of topics related to citizen science.  Interested in being a guest panelist? Tweet your quiz score to me (1 point or higher and you qualify!)

Looking for a New Years Resolution? Share your observations and leave a data legacy in citizen science!

By Roche DG, Lanfear R, Binning SA, Haff TM, Schwanz LE, et al. (2014) [CC BY 4.0 (httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Image by Roche DG, Lanfear R, Binning SA, Haff TM, Schwanz LE, et al. (2014) [CC BY 4.0 (httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Science Festivals and Hack Days!

By April 7th, 2014 at 4:38 pm | Comment

April is the month for science festivals. Join the SciStarter team at a festival near you later on this month — bring yourselves, and we’ll bring the citizen science!

Cambridge Science Festival

Friday, April 18 – Sunday, April 27

Come check out the diverse spectrum of citizen science projects out there! On April 19th during the Science Carnival event, our friends at EyeWire, Games With Words, GoViral, NOVA Labs, Public Lab, and Project MERCCURI will be joining us and demonstrating how to participate in their projects.

cambridge-science-festival

 

USA Science & Engineering Festival

Saturday, April 26 – Sunday, April 27

SciStarter will be partnering up with PaleoQuest to demonstrate their Shark Finder project. The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center will also be coming by to tell you about their new citizen science initiatives! Project MERCCURI will also be on deck. Stop by and say hello!

HACK DAYS! SciStarter is hosting a hack event in D.C. (4/26 to 4/27) to develop open APIs for citizen science. If you’re interested in participating, sign up here!

USA_Science_Engineering_Festival_NewLogo

Philadelphia Science Festival

Friday, April 25 – Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Philly SciFest always brings a plethora of activities to choose from! SciStarter and Project MERCCURI will have a booth during the Science Carnival event on May 3rd. Come help us end this season of science festivals with a bang!

HACK DAY! SciStarter is hosting a hack event in Philly (4/9) to develop open APIs for citizen science. If you’re interested in participating, sign up here!

IAc8T


Interested in volunteering with us for any (or all) of these events? Shoot an e-mail to lily@scistarter.com!

The Citizen Cyberscience Summit: Science for all, and all for science

By February 27th, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Comment

A synopsis of and key takeaways from the Citizen Cyberscience Summit 2014 in London

1932621_10151684806317255_1504091299_o

As some of you may already know, SciStarter presented at the Citizen Cyberscience Summit in London this past weekend (2/20 to 2/22). In a nutshell, the conference was a place where a multitude of organizations and groups could convene to discuss the most pertinent issues regarding citizen science today and for the future.

The first day revolved around listening–the schedule comprised of back-to-back 30-minute sessions focused on stories from practitioners about their experiences. For a session called “It Takes a Village: Engaging Participants Beyond Clickwork,” founder Darlene Cavalier spoke about SciStarter’s  Project MERCCURI, a citizen science research project in partnership with UC Davis, Science Cheerleader, Space Florida and NanoRacks to crowdsource the collection and study of  microbe samples to examine the diversity of microbes on Earth and on the International Space Station. Cavalier centered her discussion on Project MERCCURI to illustrate the benefits of working with partners to reach new communities. Project MERCCURI works with Pop Warner little scholars, Yuri’s Night, NFL, NBA and MLB teams and other nontraditional partners to activate collection activities and amplify results.

The second day was one of discussion, during which groups that attended held workshops or panels to gain insight on topics spanning policy, publishing, data gathering, sensor technology, mapping, and more. The diversity of these topics was a testament to the depth and breadth of citizen science itself.

On this day, a session called “Connecting Communities to Citizen Scientists” addressed some of the challenges experienced by citizen scientists participating in multiple projects across different platforms. This workshop, convened by Darlene Cavalier at SciStarter and Francois Grey at NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, was made possible with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. During the discussion, we heard from project managers from Public Lab, Project Noah, iNaturalist, EyeWire, Zooniverse, and a representative from Mozilla about various models for managing projects and their progress. “There is a diverse ecosystem of citizen science projects on the Web,” says Cavalier. “We are working work with stakeholders to explore ways to improve the experience for participants who want to move between different projects running on different platforms, both in terms of identity management and tracking contributions to different citizen science initiatives. The idea is to rise the tide for all involved in citizen science.”

And finally, the third day was all about doing. This open “Hack Day” allowed groups and individuals to propose sessions based on problems that they’ve identified in the work that they do. Then, the entire day allowed attendees to cross-pollinate ideas, offer their expertise, and hopefully help contribute to the solution.

20140222_153101_1

SciStarter’s Hack Day Challenge explored the idea of building a dashboard to help citizen scientists track and manage their projects. We invited anybody and everybody to our workspace (two wooden tables pushed together donned with laptops, post-its, butcher paper, candy, and SciStarter swag) to give us input. As a result, we heard from a plethora of stakeholders within the realm of citizen scientists–researchers, journalists, project managers, citizen scientists, educators, and more. We asked, how can we improve the experience for participants who want to move between different projects running on different platforms?

After a lot of conversations, a lot of scribbling, and, well, a lot of post-its, SciStarter was able to fine tune a plan for a dashboard that helps connect more people to projects and people to people, something that will truly guide us through the next year.

You can find the full program schedule and list of presenters here, and if you’re interested in looking up social media posts from the conference, follow the #CCS14 hashtag.

Have any questions for SciStarter about the conference? Do you have writing, programming, development, or organizational skills you’d like to contribute to our community effort? Please feel free to leave your comments below or e-mail us at info@scistarter.com. We want to keep this conversation going!

Images: Courtesy of Jonathan Brier & Lily Bui

Citizen Science on the Radio: The Great Backyard Bird Count

By February 8th, 2014 at 12:08 am | Comment

l_pat1200

This is the sixth year Pat Evans will be participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count from New Jersey. (Kimberly Haas/for The Pulse)

This week on The Pulse and SciStarter’s segment about citizen science, producer Kimberly Haas  tags along with local birdwatcher Pat Evans as she studies migratory bird patterns and fluxes in bird populations from New Jersey.

The Great Backyard Bird Count takes place from February 14th to 17th this year, so get started and let us know how many birds you count in the comments! Or “tweet us” (get it?) at @SciStarter when you participate!

Listen here to learn more about how this all contributes to a larger picture! Here’s an excerpt from WHYY’s related blog post:

“All you have to do is bird, either one of the four days or all four days, a minimum of 15 minutes,” [Stephen Saffier] said. “Just look out your back window, count the birds that are there in your yard. You can go to parks, you can go to schoolyards. And you tally that information on a piece of paper and then you submit it online and it all gets bundled up into this data source for Cornell and Audubon.

Recently, Science Matters, a multi-platform initiative to engage the public in STEM media, created a how-to video for those interested in participating in the GBBC this year. Their intern Margaret Carmel gives us a walkthrough.

Here’s where you can help. If you’re a citizen science researcher, project manager, or participant in the PA, NJ, or DE areas, we want to hear from you! If you have an interesting story to share about a citizen science project or experience, let us know. Send your stories for consideration to Lily@SciStarter.com.

whyy_blue1

WHYY (90.9 FM in Philly) on-air schedule:

6-9 a.m. – Morning Edition
9-10 a.m. – The Pulse
10 a.m. to 12 p.m. – Radio Times
10 a.m. following Sunday  – The Pulse (rebroadcast)

Citizen Science in the Classroom Series: Project Noah

By January 23rd, 2014 at 9:54 pm | Comment

Using Project Noah to Meet Common Core and Next Generation Teaching Standards

Project Noah title page

Grades: K-12th

Description: Project Noah is a digital platform that is designed to allow students, teachers, citizens and biologists to create a database that documents the biodiversity of plants, animals, insects, and much more across the planet. The data uploaded includes photos, geographic location, date, time, and other relevant information about the observations. Participants can join pre-formed missions to find animals, plants, butterflies, reptiles, or invasive species. Teachers may also set up specific classroom missions for students. This type of crowd sourcing information provides researchers with valuable information about species presence and absences as well as abundance. Participants may upload their spottings online or using a mobile app (iPhone or Android). There are virtual rewards or “patches” for certain achievements, such as the number of photos posted of birds, mammals, invertebrates or plants. The data that is uploaded is available to teachers for downloading and using in class for mathematical analysis. For public missions the photos that are uploaded as “unknown” are open for others to suggest identification assistance, which is often quite helpful.

Project Noah Patchs

Patches that students may earn during the Project Noah challenges

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Computer with internet access.
  • Digital camera(s)
  • Pencil or Pen
  • Notebook to record siting information
  • Cell phone and Project Noah app optional
  • Program that can upload CSV spreadsheet, optional (MS Excel works for this)
  • Depending on “mission” or class project nets, insect collectors, boots, etc. may be required

Why This Citizen Science Project is a Strong Candidate for the Classroom:

  • This project is simple enough for even kindergarten classes to participate.
  • Regardless of where you are in the world, and whether you’re an urban or rural school you can participate year round.
  • Tools required are minimal and can you can integrate smart phone technology into the classroom.
  • Students may participate inside or outside the classroom.
  • Teachers may join the global mission set up by Project Noah or create their own missions for their students.
  • When creating a class specific mission teachers may create anonymous student numbers/accounts for student safety. Only those in in the class with a specific log-in and URL may participate in or access the mission.
  • Project Noah is very visual and an easy way to connect with other students and observers globally.
  • Data is available to upload from each mission for supplementing math activities in the classroom.

Teaching Materials:

A limited number of videos about Project Noah, and sample lesson plans, are available on their website.

Online Safety for Children

The Project Noah website can be accessed by the instructor creating their own account and joining pre-formed missions or by creating a class-specific mission. The classroom mission gives teachers the option to create anonymous individual student accounts with specific numbers (you may have as many students as you wish). The URL for the specific class challenge you create is private and only students with their own log-in may access the site. Project Noah will offer to create unique passwords for students or one password that you set for the entire class. Students may also join external public missions but they will still remain anonymous with a student number. They may choose to upload a profile picture (of themselves or an animal) but no other information is required or asked for.

Project Noah Spottings

Examples of Project Noah Spottings

Common Core and Next Gen. Standards Met:

Kindergarten:

Next. Gen. Science: K-LS-1 Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals need to survive.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record photos of the things that animals and plants need to survive. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the teacher may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah.

Common Core:

Literacy:  W.K.2, W.K.7, SL.K.5

Teachers may have students write, draw, and dictate information explaining the specific Project Noah mission they are researching.For the next generation standards this may be an explanation of the photos and sightings they are recording relating to what animals and plants need to survive. Photos may be a visual display to supplement these requirements.

Math: MP.4, K.CC, K.MD.A.2

Teachers may download data from the project and have students reason quantitatively, using counting, to compare the different types of resources found.

First Grade:

Next. Gen. Science: 1-LS3-1 Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like, their parents. Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record photos of organisms in different life stages. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the teacher may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah.

Common Core:

Literacy:  W.1.7, W.1.8

Students will participate in the shared research of the Project Noah challenge set forth by the teacher. They may research the project and write about it or write a step by step account (with the help of adults) relating to their experience collecting data.

Math: MP.2

Teachers may download data from the specific Project Noah challenge they have set forward for the class. Teachers may create graphs, or ask students to do basic tallying and counting, and ask students to quantatively describe patterns in the numbers of adults, juveniles, larvae, and eggs observed.  

Second Grade:

Next. Gen. Science:  2-LS2-2 Develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record photos of plant seeds and organisms dispersing seeds. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the teacher may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah. Data may be downloaded and analyzed by the class.

2-LS4-1 Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record of flora and fauna from different local habitats or their schoolyard. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the teacher may add them to the Schoolyard Bioblitz mission. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the teacher may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah. Data may be downloaded and analyzed by the class.

Common Core:

Literacy:  W.2.7, W.2.8, SL.2.5

Students will participate in the shared Project Noah research challenge posed by the teacher relating to either animals dispersing seeds and pollinating plants or the numbers of animals in different habitats. They will form a hypothesis and use data collected to answer the question to the best of their ability. Students will also use photos to supplement visual displays to clarify ideas and experiences.

Math: MP.2, MP.4, 2.MD.D.10

Teachers will download data from the project and ask students to create a picture graph and/or a bar graph to represent data with up to four categories relating to either the pollinator project (see above) or the animal biodiversity project (see above). For example, students may categorize the number of mammals, birds, reptiles/amphibians, and invertebrates recorded in specific habitats. They would then use this information to create graphs.

Third Grade:

Next. Gen. Science:  3-LS3-2 Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record different animals in a variety of environments as a way to discuss their traits and adaptations for those environments. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the teacher (or students) may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah. Data may be downloaded and analyzed by the class.

Common Core:

Literacy: W.3.1, W.3.2, W.3.9, SL.3.4

Students will participate in the Project Noah research mission that the teacher creates for them relating to different physiological traits found in different habitats or environments. They may research the different traits observed and write an explanatory text to explain the patterns that appeared in the observations. Students may also write an opinion piece on these observations and/or explanatory text about the research methods used to explore this topic.

Math: MP.2, MP.4, 3.MD.B.3

Teachers may help students download data from the Project Noah database, and their project, and then analyze patterns in the data. Students may then create several categories relating to the different traits found in different habitats or environments. They may create a line graph or bar graph of their data.

MIDDLE SCOOL

Next. Gen. Science:  MS-LS2-2 Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record different animals in a variety of trophic levels across different ecosystems. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the students may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah. Data may be downloaded and analyzed by the class.

Common Core:

Literacy: WHST.6-8.1

Students will conduct a short experiment to answer a question. In this case students may ask about the number of organisms in different trophic levels found in their local ecosystems. They may also use several outside sources to develop questions that will allow for multiple questions or avenues of exploration.

Next. Gen. Science:  MS-LS2-5

Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services. Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record biodiversity in a specific ecosystem, or their school yard. Schoolyard sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the teacher may add them to the Schoolyard Bioblitz mission.

Common Core:

Literacy: WHST.6.8-2, WHS.6-8.9, SL8.1, SL.8.4

Students may use the Project Noah challenge, relating to cataloging biodiversity at their chosen research site, as the basis of a research project concerning maintaining biodiversity in a specific ecosystem. They may use literary and biological texts to support their reasoning, as well as collaborative discussion with student groups. They may then present their claims and ideas using research, evidence, and reasoning.

Math: MP.4, 6.RP.A.3

Students may upload data from the Project Noah challenge and then use ratios and reasoning to solve questions about biodiversity in specific ecosystems. They should then use these data sets to support their arguments for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Next. Gen. Science:  MS-LS1-4 Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record different categories of adaptations, such as vocalizations, structure building, mimicry, food rewards, etc. Data may be downloaded and statistically analyzed.

Common Core:

Literacy: WHST.6.8-2, WST.6-8.8, WHST.6.8.9, SL.8.5

Students will participate in the Project Noah challenge to find animal behaviors, relating to probability of reproductive success. They will create a hypothesis, and then write explanatory text and an argument relating to the numbers of animals observed correlated to the specific behavior types. They may use outside sources to support their research and use multimedia to present their findings (supported by pictures from the project and graphs).

Math: MP.4, 6.SP.A.2, 6.SP.B.4, 6.SP.B.5

Students will download numerical information from the Project Noah database/challenge for their class. They will use mathematics and reasoning to describe the pattern of distribution of their results. This analysis will be conducted using charts and graphs of their data.

HIGH SCHOOL (common core not included)

Next. Gen. Science:  HS-LS2-6 Evaluate claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record biodiversity in a specific ecosystem, or their school yard. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the students may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah. Data may be downloaded and analyzed by the class to look for trends in population numbers.

Next. Gen. Science:  HS-LS4-3 Apply concepts of statistics and probability to support explanations that organisms with an advantageous heritable trait tend to increase in proportion to organisms lacking that trait.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to find and record the abundance of different traits. These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the students may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah. Data may be downloaded and analyzed by the class to look for trends in the abundance of organism with specific traits.

Next. Gen. Science:  HS-lS4-5 Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.

Teachers may create their own Project Noah classroom mission for students to record the numbers of individuals of specific species in areas with different environmental conditions (for example aquatic insects). These sightings may be uploaded into the classroom mission or the students may add them to up to four other missions on Project Noah. Data may be downloaded and analyzed by the class to determine if there are trends in population numbers of species and how this correlates to environmental conditions.


When not writing her blog The Infinite Spider, Karen McDonald is a guest blogger, curriculum developer, science content editor, and outdoor educator with over thirteen years in informal science education. She has an MS in Biology and a BS in Environmental Science and Philosophy. Currently she works for Smithsonian and contracts for Discovery Channel.