Introducing SciStarter 2.0; built with you in mind.

By Darlene Cavalier September 19th, 2017 at 10:03 pm | Comment

You spoke, we listened. So come on over and check out the new SciStarter, your source for real science you can do! We feature more than 1600 current opportunities for you (yup, you!) to advance scientific research, locally or globally.

Help scientists and community leaders monitor the quality of water, air and soil near you. Learn how to report levels of light pollution, a serious issue affecting sleeping and nesting habits of wildlife (not to mention it’s the reason you probably can’t see the Milky Way!). Or help Alzheimer’s researchers analyze real brain blood flow movies and simply click an image to record when blood vessels are stalled.

With support from the National Science Foundation and others, and your feedback, we’ve created new features for participants, projects owners, and researchers. We hope you like your dashboard, for example, where you can bookmark, join, or track your contributions to projects and events of interest to you, connect with scientists, find other participants, and so much more.

Will you kindly fill out your profile then complete this survey to let us know what you think about the new features?

Your feedback will help us understand where we need to put our efforts next in order to support your interests and needs in citizen science.

Cheers!

The SciStarter Team

Want more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With 1600+ citizen science projects spanning every field of research, task and age group, there’s something for everyone!

Categories: Citizen Science

Sweet Citizen Science for National Honey Month

By Sarah Newman September 18th, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Comment

Johanna James-Heinz

“For bees the flower is the fountain of life. For flowers, the bee is the messenger of love.”

-Kahlil Gibran 
 
In honor of National Honey Month we’ve highlighted a few citizen science projects you can do to help us better understand our buzzing friends the bees. From honey bees to bumble bees, there’s something for everyone.   
 
Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

Bumble Bee Watch

Rich Hatfield
Have you ever wondered what species of bumble bees live in your neighborhood? Start your own virtual bumble bee collection by sharing photos of bees and experts will help you identify them! You may be the person that locates a new population of a rare bumble bee species!
 
Location: North America

Bee Germs

Bethann Merkle
Many species of bees make their homes underground, right beneath our feet! But we don’t know a lot about these particular bees. By studying the germs (pathogens) underground dwelling bees carry, we can better understand how to help them.
 
Location: North America

Minnesota Bumble Bee Survey

Minnesota Bumble Bee Survey
Chasing bees through fields of flowers is a great way to spend a few hours. Several species of bumble bees appear to be declining but more information is needed to better understand where, when and why. Join a Minnesota Bumble Bee Survey to help figure out what’s happening with bumble bees.
 
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota, US

ZomBee Watch

USGS
Zombie flies are parasitizing bees in California and possibly other areas too! Capture honeybees and observe them over several days to look for Zombie fly pupae to emerge. 
 
Location: Global

EZ Water and Bees

Schanin – pixabay
What kind of water do bees prefer? What kind of water makes for the best honey production? By taking pictures of bees visiting water you can help answer these and other questions about bees, water, and honey.
Location: Global

BeeWise Honeybee and Nectar Pollen Map

Jane Crayton
Did you know that bees are out collecting pollen, even in the fall? Taking pictures of bees and the flowers they’re collecting nectar from or pollinating can help researchers better understand bee behavior. 
 
Location: Pueblo County, Colorado

Discover more summertime citizen science on the SciStarter calendar. Did you know your SciStarter dashboard helps you track your contributions to projects? Complete your profile to access free tools. Want even more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With 1100+ citizen science projects spanning every field of research, task and age group, there’s something for everyone!

Digital Disaster Relief: Crowdsourced Responses to Hurricanes, Earthquakes, and Floods Around the World

By Guest September 13th, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Comment

By: Lily Bui

In the brief span of two months, a series of disasters have swept across the globe. Hurricanes in the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean left homes, businesses, and streets flooded, disarmed power grids and basic services, and devastated the communities that rely on them. An earthquake in Mexico spurred mass evacuations and toppled buildings. Floods in South Asia killed thousands and shut millions of children out of school.

Critical to disaster response efforts after an incident is the gathering and sense-making of information. Crowdsourced mapping, data curation and analysis, social media monitoring, API development, and so on, provide an opportunity to people not living in these disaster areas another means of contributing to aid efforts. Read the rest of this entry »

Help Cornell Researchers Find the Lost Ladybugs

By Guest September 7th, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Comment

By: Megan Ray Nichols

It’s always fun to have a ladybug land on your arm while outside — but these days, it’s more and more likely that any ladybugs landing on you or the plants in your garden are not native to North America. Over the past three decades, several ladybug species native to North America have all but disappeared from the landscape. At the same time, other species, introduced from Europe and Asia, have proliferated.  What’s happening to our native ladybugs, and where can they still be found? Researchers at Cornell University created The Lost Ladybug Project to find this out.

What is the Lost Ladybug Project?

Nine-spotted Ladybug Beetle. Credit: Rob Haley (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Lost Ladybug Project is a citizen science endeavor that originated at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, that seeks to find out more about native species, such as the rare nine-spotted ladybug, as well as the non-natives that seem to be taking their place. Volunteers across the country look for ladybugs in their yards, gardens, or other locations. When volunteers spot ladybugs, they share a photograph and the location where the photo was taken with the Cornell researchers. They use this information to learn more about where our native ladybugs are found, how many there might be, and what effect the changing distribution of ladybugs may have on local ecosystems.

Ladybugs eat plant-eating bugs like aphids, which can damage roses and many other garden plants, but their overall impact on the ecosystem remains largely unknown.  The populations change quickly, making scientists worry about what impact these changes might have on the local ecosystems.

Perfect for Students or Science Clubs

For students, there’s nothing better than a lesson spent outside. Getting your students involved in the Lost Ladybug Project is a great way to help the Cornell researchers while immersing students in hands-on field work. The project also could be a great fit for science clubs or for organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts; both organizations have nature- and outdoor-themed badges  and participating in this project could help scouts attain them.

The project also spans multiple academic subjects, offering a deeper learning experience..For example:

  • Science — Just spotting the ladybugs and learning to identify the different subspecies is a science lesson in itself; as is learning about the insect’s lifecycle.
  • Math — For young students, start by counting the spots and adding them up. Older students could use basic statistics to estimate the current ladybug population based on available information.
  • Art — Who doesn’t love drawing ladybugs?
  • Reading — There are dozens of titles, for all age groups, that revolve around, or at least mention, ladybugs.
  • History — Ladybugs aren’t just pest-eaters. In many cultures, they’re considered good luck.  Spend some time researching the history of ladybug superstitions.

Lost Ladybug Project field guide. Credit: The Lost Ladybug Project

What Do You Need to Get Started?

All you need to get started with the Lost Ladybug Project is a few willing minds and a few pairs of sharp eyes, but many tools exist to help you along the way.

  1. Lesson plans and other printables: The project itself has created a number of lesson plans, lists and printables to use in conjunction with your lessons.
  2. Insect catching equipment: You don’t want to harm the ladybugs as you capture them. Invest in some nets or other capture equipment as well as some proper containers for holding the ladybugs while you observe and photograph them.
  3. A digital camera or camera phone: If you want to participate in the Lost Ladybug Project, you need to photograph your captured ladybugs. Once photographed, you can upload them to the project’s site, along with information such as discovery location and habitat.

That’s it — you don’t need much more than a bug net and a camera to get involved with the Lost Ladybug Project, and they can use all the help they can get. Once you’ve found your first few ladybugs and uploaded your findings, your students won’t want to stop hunting for them. And remember — even if you don’t find any ladybugs on one of your searches, zeroes are useful data too.


Megan Ray Nichols is a freelance science writer and the editor of Schooled By Science. She regularly writes for The Naked Scientists, Astronomy Magazine, and IoT Evolution. When she isn’t writing, Megan enjoys exploring new hiking trails, finding a new book to read or catching up on episodes of Dr. Who. Keep in touch with Megan by following her on Twitter and subscribing to her blog.

Want more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With 1100+ citizen science projects spanning every field of research, task and age group, there’s something for everyone!

IMLS support will help public libraries serve as community hubs for citizen science

By Darlene Cavalier September 6th, 2017 at 9:59 am | Comment

Please note: If you run a project that requires participants to use low cost (under $300) tools not commonly found around the house (rain gauge, sensor, telescope, water testing kit, clip on magnifying lens, recording device, bulk printed materials, etc), and this lack of access to the tools is creating a barrier to entry for your would-be-participants, please email darlene@scistarter.com. Thanks to support from IMLS, we will soon begin to evaluate the characteristics of projects and tools relative to the interests and capacities of communities and librarians, to understand ideal factors for creating and sustaining citizen science toolkits in libraries and supporting libraries as community hubs for citizen science.  If you’d like your project and tools to be considered for this new program, please send me an email. Thank you.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced 49 grants to institutions totaling $10,216,923. The awards are made through the FY 2017 second cycle of the National Leadership Grants for Libraries Program and the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program.

“We are delighted to announce today’s grant recipients whose projects are designed to have lasting benefits for the library and archives fields,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “These grants highlight how IMLS helps steer the nation’s investments in libraries and ensure that librarians are equipped to provide citizens access to the information, resources, and services they want and need.”

National Leadership Grants for Libraries support projects that address challenges faced by the library and archives fields and that have the potential to advance library and archival practice with new tools, research findings, models, services, or alliances that can be widely replicated.

One of the funded projects (IMLS LG-95-17-0158-17) will support public libraries as community hubs for citizen science through a toolkit of citizen science resources by Arizona State University, in partnership with Arizona State Library, NISE Net, and SciStarter .

The team will develop a field-tested, replicable, low-cost toolkit of citizen science resources for public libraries. The project team of librarians, citizen science experts, informal STEM educators, practitioners, and scientists, will: 1) develop and evaluate citizen science toolkits that will be available for and through the public library partners; 2) create associated resources to train, support, and communicate with librarians and citizen scientists; and 3) work with stakeholders to create a plan to scale the model to interested libraries, statewide then nationally. The project will leverage SciStarter, an online community that brings together science researchers and citizen scientists, with a database of over 1,600 citizen science projects, several requiring tools and instruments that may be made more accessible through the new pilot lending libraries. Summative evaluation will assess the library staffs’ knowledge of citizen science, their capacities, and sense of self-efficacy in engaging patrons in citizen science activities, and will also measure the extent of patrons’ participation in citizen science as a result of the library programming.

Visit the IMLS website for more information about the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program.