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Citizen Science in the National Park

Main Project Information
Presented By National Parks Service
Goal Discover ways to do real science in the National Park
Task Swab pennies, classify clouds, record wildlife, look for fossils
Where Independence National Historic Park, Market Street, Chinatown, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, 19107, United S

Science in the National Park is an exciting new collaboration with the National Parks Service, supporting their Every Kid in a Park Initiative! This event will take place on Thursday, April 27 from 10:00 am-3:00 pm at Independence National Historic Park, Philadelphia – there are funds available to purchase supplies for our activity providers!

What do the Liberty Bell, pennies, and the International Space Station have in common?
What: Put on your white gloves (just like the Park Rangers do before they handle the copper LIberty Bell) and swab copper pennies right next to the Liberty Bell.
Why: Simulate how researchers swabbed the copper Liberty Bell and other Philadelphia Landmarks to collect microbes (germs, most of which are very good for us!) for a national study to compare microbial growth rates on Earth and in space:

Mastodon Fossils in Philly?
What: Help sift through matrix, the dirt that surrounds fossils which holds rich information about the diet and timeline of the deceased animal. Scoop a little matrix onto a paper plate and use a magnifying glass to sort plants, bones, rocks or other elements.
Why: A researcher at Cornell needed to find a way to sift through a TON of this same matrix that surrounded the largest, most complete Mastodon fossil every unearthed. It was found in Hyde Park, NY, in the backyard of a family installing a new in-ground pool! The scientists decided to ask people if they'd be willing to help her. Anyone who signed up was mailed a small bag filled with matrix, instructions and bags and labels to return anything interesting they found. Thanks to these citizen scientists, her work was completed in a fraction of the time and budget it would normally have cost Cornell!

Learn about local air quality conditions while waiting for SEPTA.
What: Tell the story of EPA's Smart Bench
Why: From WPVI-TV: "The Environmental Protection Agency introduced a special bench at Independence National Historic Park, on 6th and Arch streets. The bench is interactive. It has a built-in monitoring station, so it can measure air quality and the weather.The bench was developed by the EPA to raise public awareness of the environment. " Come learn more about this bench and discover other Philly-based air quality monitoring projects in need of their help.

Look up! What types of clouds do you see? NASA wants to know!
What: Learn how to download NASA's GLOBE Observer App and start sharing your observations about the clouds you see. Compare what you see with the app's cloud chart then share observations and classifications with NASA!
Why: NASA has a number of satellites in orbit measuring soil moisture, weather, CO2 levels and classifying cloud types (among other things). One problem is that the satellites classify the cloud type based on what they see from above the clouds. NASA scientists need our help ground-truthing these observations from the ground.By looking up and classifying the clouds for NASA from the ground, participants help calibrate the accuracy of instruments on NASA satellites.

Look Down! What insects and plants can you find and identify?
What: Let's document all the wildlife and plant species we find to create a census of the Park. Dr. Dan Duran, the Bug Man, will be on-site to help identify the insects we find (using magnifying glasses).
Why: This "biodiversity snapshot" can be used by citizen scientists and researchers to monitor and document change in the future.

Just like Lewis & Clark, you can record all of your observations in a journal: the clouds you classified, the air quality indicators you recorded, the insects and plants you found and more!

We need volunteers to help coordinate these activities. Sign up to participate or to volunteer by clicking "Request to Join" on this page.

How to Join Click the "Request to join" button on this page to instantly notify the project leader of your interest!

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Ideal Age Group Elementary school (6 - 10 years), Middle school (11 - 13 years), High school (14 - 17 years), College, Graduate students, Adults, Families, Seniors
Ideal Frequency Just once
Average Time Less than an hour
Spend the Time outdoors
Type of Activity On a walk, run, On a hike
Tags independence park, nps, philadephia science festival, psf
Project Updated 04/21/2017