Archive for the ‘us geological survey’ tag

Citizen Scientists Go Back to School

By September 10th, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Comment

It happens every year, and you’re right: it’s just not fair. After nearly three months of uninterrupted fun, gone are the barbeques, ball games and pool parties that dominated the summer schedule just as Labor Day signals the sudden arrival of the shorter, colder, and more structured days of the school year. But before you cast yourself into the depths of the autumn blues, rest assured that we are working hard to make this year’s science lessons a little different and—especially if you like nature and the outdoors—a little more fun!

Below is our third annual “Back-to-School” list of projects recommended to get teachers and students thinking about how to incorporate citizen science in the classroom. Check out our previous installments (2011, 2010) for additional ideas.

Participate in Project BudBurst: The National Ecological Observatory Network invites student citizen scientists to submit their observations of the phenophases (leafing, flowering, fruit ripening) of local grasses, shrubs and trees. This data will be compiled and compared to historical figures to help scientists learn more about the responsiveness of specific plant species to climate change. Their teachers, meanwhile, might consider enrolling in the BudBurst Academy, an online course for K-12 educators providing all the necessary information for implementing Project Budburst and engaging in citizen science in your classroom.

Plan your own BioBlitz: Even (or perhaps especially) if you missed the 2012 BioBlitz co-hosted by the National Park Service and the National Geographic Society, consider planning your own in your own neighborhood or schoolyard. These biodiversity snapshots provide valuable data for analysis of local species and their habitats.

Count some bugs: Don’t let those math skills go to waste! SciStarter features several opportunities to count stuff, particularly insects and other creepy crawlies. Just pick your favorite: dragonflies, butterflies, bumble bees, spiders, ants, and worms.

Heads up: So bugs aren’t you’re thing. No problem. How about some astronomy? You can grow tomatoes to assess the feasibility of long-term space travel; search for the compound that stores solar power and thus solves the world’s energy crisis; craft a story about your favorite astronomical bodies; or help astronomers search for and identify new planets and stars!

Be a mapmaker: The U.S. Geological Survey is considering the restoration of The National Map Corps, its volunteer mapping initiative, launching a pilot program in the state of Colorado. Anyone with an Internet connection can update the national map, adding the important man-made structures throughout the community such as hospitals, fire stations, and schools. The USGS could expand the program into other areas in the future if its initial efforts are successful. Come on Colorado!

Photo: NationalService.gov

Earthquake research is shaking up citizen science

By May 6th, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Comment

Quake-Catcher Network is one of several earthquake-related citizen science projects..

Quake-Catcher Network is one of several earthquake-related citizen science projects.

Recent earthquakes in China, Haiti, Chili, Mexico, and elsewhere have provided a clear reminder of the devastation and loss of human life that can occur when an earthquake strikes in populated areas. Though scientists cannot currently predict earthquakes, there is an amazing wealth of research being conducted around the world to provide a better understanding of the timing, impacts, mechanics, and history of earthquakes.

You can help! Below, I’ve listed a few of the earthquake-related citizen science projects in our Project Finder:

The Twitter Earthquake Detection Program is investigating the use of Twitter to collect and analyze citizen accounts of earthquakes around the world. The project gathers real-time, earthquake-related messages from Twitter and applies place, time, and keyword filtering to gather geo-located accounts of shaking.

“Did You Feel It?” provides an opportunity for people who experience an earthquake to help create a map of shaking intensities and damage. By answering basic questions like “Did the earthquake wake you up?” and “Did objects fall off shelves?,” anyone can share the effects of an earthquake and the extent of damage.  The resulting “Community Internet Intensity Maps” contribute greatly to the quick assessment of the scope of an earthquake emergency and provide valuable data for earthquake research.

Quake-Catcher Network is linking volunteers’ laptops and desktops in hopes of forming the world’s largest and densest earthquake monitoring system. Quake-Catcher Network provides the software, and you join other citizen scientists in improving earthquake monitoring, earthquake awareness, and the science of earthquakes.

Do you know of any other earthquake-related citizen science projects?  If so, please submit that project to our growing Project Finder database. You’ll help fellow citizen scientists find new opportunities and hopefully build more awareness for the project coordinators.