You Can Do More to Combat the Flu than Just Get a Flu Shot

By Kristin Butler January 18th, 2018 at 11:36 am | Comment

If you feel like this year’s flu season is a rough one, that’s because it is.

CBS News recently reported that this year’s flu virus is dominated by a particularly nasty strain, H3N2, which has reached almost every corner of the country, causing prolonged illness in many and in some instances, death. The very young and the elderly are particularly vulnerable, and this year’s vaccine may only be about 30% effective because H3N2 tends to mutate quickly. Read the rest of this entry »

SciStarter’s Top 10 Projects of 2017 are here!

By Lea Shell January 15th, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Comment

 

What a year it has been! We now have more than 50,000 active members participating in over 1,700 projects on SciStarter. We can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.

From neurons to whales and everything in between, the 2017 Top 10 Projects are as varied and diverse as their participants. Thanks for making it such a successful year for citizen science.

This list, in no particular order, is based on the 10 projects with the most page views on SciStarter *and* the most “joins”.

Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

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The Latest Underrepresented Voices in Science: Female Songbirds

By Guest January 12th, 2018 at 11:09 am | Comment

Female Troupial, Photo Credit: Dr. Karan Odom

By: Julia Travers

Songbirds may be nature’s pop stars, but the females are still waiting for a turn in the spotlight — we don’t even know if females sing in about 70 percent of songbird species. This is because the study of birds has a gender gap: most previous research has focused on male song. Participants in the Female Bird Song Project are looking to right this imbalance.

“I think this is a very important project. It involves citizen science in gathering fundamental information about the behavioral diversity of birds,” says evolutionary ornithologist Richard Prum of Yale University. Researchers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Leiden University call on birders to contribute videos, photos, sound clips and field notes of female bird songs so they can better understand the evolution and role of this expressive behavior. Their research already revealed that female birds have most likely been singing for tens of millions of years. Read the rest of this entry »

Seven citizen science projects to do in the snow!

By Darlene Cavalier January 5th, 2018 at 7:28 am | Comment

Will Cavalier measures snowfall in Philadelphia to help cryosphere researchers calibrate instruments on weather satellites.

Did you know that forecasters rely on YOU to help accurately predict snow storms, floods, droughts and extreme weather conditions? The National Weather Service, for example, depends on people just like you to report local rain and snow precipitation measurements to a citizen science project known asCoCoRaHS: Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network. Learn more about this long-running, popular project and, when you’re ready to jump in, set up your rain gauge before the next rain or snow storm to collect rain, record measurements, and share data! CoCoRaHS shares the data with scientists, planners, and, yes, the National Weather Service. CoCoRaHS is also a SciStarter Affiliate which means you can earn credit for participation in your SciStarter dashboard. OOOOOOH! (SciStarter is a global community of citizen scientists with operations anchored in Philly!)

This is one is cool. Simply by Tweeting the precise snow accumulation data where you are, you can help cryosphere researchers calibrate the accuracy of instruments on-board weather satellites orbiting overhead! Those instruments are great at taking pictures and analyzing wide sections of land but they cannot tell the difference between, say, a snow bank and a huge accumulation of naturally falling snow. But you can! Get your ruler, put your warm winter gear on, and head outside to do SnowTweets! Tag @SciStarter and #SnowDay if you decide to do this one and we’ll give you a shout out!

Here are more projects on SciStarter that you can do in the snow!

Your Computer Can Volunteer, Too

By Guest January 4th, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Comment

By: Caitlin Larkin

You probably remember when the Ebola virus became news in 2014, after it killed thousands of people. Erica Ollmann Saphire (pictured above), a structural biologist at The Scripps Research Institute, and one of the world’s foremost experts on Ebola, understood the molecular structure of the disease—and she knew its weak spots. She had a plan of attack to find an antiviral drug. Her first step was to study millions of chemical compounds to determine their potential as the basis for this drug. Testing just one compound in a laboratory, however, could take years. Computer-based simulations would help reduce the time needed for this testing by predicting the lab outcomes, but Saphire didn’t have access to computers powerful enough to run these simulations. Read the rest of this entry »