Archive for the ‘STEM’ tag

Know your numbers

By January 14th, 2013 at 7:44 am | Comment

Do you know your numbers?

Do you just “get” numbers? Or have they always left you a little baffled? Now you can test this observation and quantify your number sense.

Number sense is our “gut knowledge” of numbers’ magnitude, their relationships, and even basic arithmetic. Number sense is thought to be innate, potently present as early as infancy. But while we all have it, we are not made equal. Individuals vary in the accuracy of their number sense. In other words, some people are better at guessing than others. Scientists think that such differences could relate to an individual’s mathematical aptitude.

To explore this further, researchers at John Hopkins University developed a number discrimination test, available for free online. The 10 minute test is straightforward. Yellow and blue dots flash onto a screen and you have to guess if there were more yellow or blue dots. After, the program provides a report of your performance and a comparison to others in your demographic.

Already researchers around the world have used this tool to explore different aspects of and factors relating to number sense. The John Hopkins developers have also created a package for educators that includes instructions for administering the test and guides for data analysis.

Curious to learn more? Test yourself!

Photo: USAF

Announcing the SciStarter kiosk interface for schools, museums and public areas.

By December 13th, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Comment

SciStarter Kiosk

Earlier today, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences hosted “E.O. Wilson’s Global Town Hall,” with biologist Edward Osborne Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus at Harvard. In anticipation of this exciting event, the museum revamped its Citizen Science Center and added new features.

“I am especially pleased that we now offer a SciStarter kiosk in our exhibit as it will provide museum visitors access to hundreds of citizen science projects with a few clicks of the mouse,” said Chris Goforth, manager of Citizen Science at the Museum and the brains behind one of our favorite citizen science projects, the Dragonfly Swarm!
“SciStarter has an unparalleled ability to match the public with citizen science projects, regardless of their interests, and does a great job of highlighting how anyone, anywhere can become a citizen scientist. It is a most welcome addition to our citizen science exhibit.”

The SciStarter kiosk is designed to prevent random web surfing while enabling visitors to “shop” for their favorite citizen science projects from among the more than 500 curated projects featured in the SciStarter Project Finder. Visitors can simply email their “shopping cart” to themselves so they can get get started later!

If you would the SciStarter Kiosk interface in your school, science center or other public area, please email info@scistarter.com to learn more.

10 back-to-school projects for young citizen scientists

By September 13th, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Comment 1

World Water Monitoring Day - San Juan, Puerto Rico

World Water Monitoring Day is one of many citizen science projects for primary and secondary school students.

As summer comes to a close, a young person’s fancy may turn to fretting at the thought of being cooped up in a classroom. But for fans of science and nature—and by that we mean kids who like to watch clouds, hunt mushrooms, prowl around graveyards, and check out what gets squashed on the side of the road—fall need not signal the end of fun.

To keep young minds entertained as well as enlightened, we recommend the following 10 back-to-school projects for student citizen scientists. Teachers and parents, please note: Many of these programs provide materials around which you can build lessons. And there are lots more where these came from.  Visit our Project Finder for a full list of citizen science projects for primary and secondary school students.

World Water Monitoring Day: World Water Monitoring Day is an international program that encourages citizen volunteers to monitor their local water bodies. An easy-to-use test kit enables everyone from children to adults to sample local water bodies for basic water quality parameters: temperature, acidity (pH), clarity (turbidity), and dissolved oxygen. Though World Water Monitoring Day is officially celebrated on September 18, the monitoring window is extended to cover the period from March 22 (World Water Day) until December 31. Check out what one of our members said about the project.

School of Ants: Join North Carolina State University researchers in a citizen-scientist driven study of the ants that live in urban areas, particularly around homes and schools. Collection kits are available to anyone interested in participating. Teachers, students, parents, kids, junior-scientists, senior citizens and enthusiasts of all stripes are involved in collecting ants in schoolyards and backyards using a standardized protocol so that project coordinators can make detailed maps of the wildlife that lives just outside their doorsteps.

The Albedo Project: Wherever you are – anywhere in the world – on September 23th, contribute to science by taking a photo of a blank white piece of paper, outside in the sun, between 4:00 and 7:00 pm local time. Your photo will used to to help students measure how much of the sun’s energy is reflected back from the Earth — our planet’s “albedo.” It’s one way scientists can monitor how much energy – and heat – is being absorbed by our planet.

Students’ Cloud Observations On-Line (S’COOL): Report your observations of clouds—their shapes, height, coverage, and related conditions—so that NASA scientists can compare them with data from weather satellites passing over your area. Tutorials and observing guides are available for students. For teachers, the program provides lesson plans, charts, and advice on related educational standards.

Tracking Climate in Your Backyard: This project teaches volunteer meteorologists aged 8 to 12 about the scientific process by enlisting them in the collection of weather data in their communities. Download free support material and curriculum.

Physics Songs:  Physics Songs aims to be the world’s premier website devoted to collecting and organizing all songs about physics. It is managed by Walter F. Smith, Professor of Physics at Haverford College. Songs about physics can help students to remember critical concepts and formulas, but perhaps more importantly they communicate the lesson that physics can be fun.

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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. ScienceCheerleader.com, 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 ScienceForCitizens.net .

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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Albedo Project Results Are In!

By July 8th, 2011 at 7:43 am | Comment

Turn a piece of paper into scientific data!

Turn a piece of paper into scientific data!

Did you take a photo of white paper on the ground June 21 for the Albedo Project?

Whether or not you participated, you can now take a look at the data at the Albedo Project website. Locations of all the photos are shown on a Google Map. Zoom in to find your data point. And if you’d like to peruse the photos of white paper, you can find them in Flickr.

Photos were sent in from over 30 US states and 11 countries, pointing out that projects like this would not happen without participation by photo-snapping volunteers!

This is “not bad for a first effort,” according to the web site. However, the resulting albedo calculated from the photos is not very accurate. Here’s the results summary from the Albedo Project website:

“The average albedo for all samples is 0.11 – That’s pretty low, but when you look at the images, you can see that it makes sense. Some of those photos are dark, and they were not adjusted in any manner.  (The average albedo for Earth is about 0.3)”

Why is the number so low? The photos did not provide a full representation of the Earth’s surface. About half of the photos were taken on grass, about a third were on concrete or brick, and most of the others were on soil or sand.

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