Citizen science in space!

By November 29th, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Comments (4)

International Space Station citizen science SciStarter MicrobiomesThis morning, Space Florida announced that a research proposal submitted by SciStarter, Science Cheerleader and UCDavis won a competition to fly innovative research projects on the International Space Station via Space X in December 2013.

We are stoked.

This research will compare growth rates of microbiomes collected on Earth (by YOU and your fellow citizen scientists!) to those collected on high touch surfaces on the ISS. It will also enable all of us to contribute to a world population map of microbiomes and learn more about our own microbial environments. We spend most of our lives in “built environments” yet we understand very little about the make up of the millions of microbiomes living on us and in our houses/offices, etc. This project hopes to advance research in this area. SciStarter and the Science Cheerleaders will be leading the research with UCDavis and heading up the outreach components at public venues.

If you are interested in learning more, here’s the announcement:

And here’s the proposal:

Huge thanks to our newest member of the SciStarter and Science Cheerleader teams, Mark Severance, who helped make this possible. Mark, our Space Guy, will be leading and developing space oriented activities for both sites. Mark is a career NASA employee at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and was introduced to us by Science Cheerleader Summer Williams who also works at NASA in Houston ( in addition to being a former cheerleader for the Houston Texans and current Ms. Texas!). Very special thanks to Science Cheerleader (and PhD candidate) Wendy Brown for her expertise and guidance on the proposal. And, of course, it is the innovative research on microbiomes being done by Dr. Jonathan Eisen and his colleague Russell Neches at UCDavis that sparked this wild ride.

We want to immediately launch a broad campaign to engage the public in our experiment. Some of the areas we will need help with are:

  • Additional thoughts on how to use the collected microbes for research
  • Web page development and maintenance
  • App development (we also have plans for a Science of Cheerleading App…are you an app developer? Let us know if you can help!)
  • Development of space cheers and space cheer activities (for live events, online videos, and app)
  • Experiment sample tracking and results data collection and posting
  • Educational content development; Informal lessons and background information
  • Leave Behind documents and downloadable materials
  • Informal lessons and background information
  • Blog updates for both sites
  • Social Media contributors (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Flicker, etc)
  • Liaison to our Participating Partners including the National Science Teachers Association, Pop Warner Youth Scholars, NFL, NBA
  • Cultivation of Industrial partners and Sponsors
  • Appearance Participation and Coordination
  • Point-of-Contact to venues
  • Media outreach and coordination (we already have national media interested in this…)
  • Kit distribution at venues and return to UC Davis
  • Leave Behind materials distribution
  • Travel coordination

We believe that that our experiment can create an unprecedented level of public participation in a space-based science experiment. However, our success will rely heavily on the expertise and participation of others. Please leave a comment here if you are interested in getting involved. Or email darlene @ scistarter . com .

It is our vision that this will be the first of a series of space based experiments we can conduct onboard, or launched from, the ISS. Although we are primarily focused on the implementation of our current proposal, Mark and I would welcome your ideas for other space experiments we could pursue. Feel free to share your ideas with us at any time.

Categories: ISS

4 Responses to 'Citizen science in space!'

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  1. I am a participant in the Wildlife of your Home project, and by day I am a Medical Laboratory Technologist with experience in science technical writing (FDA submissions for pharmaceutical research). Please feel free to contact me if my skill set can be of help.

    Karen Hart Moore

    30 Nov 12 at 12:34 pm

  2. HI, I’m an Anthropology professor and would be interested in helping in some way. I’m not sure what you still need assistance with, but in addition to teaching both physical and cultural anthropology, I also write green living articles for, so I have a couple of avenues that I might be able to explore in regards to this. Let me know what you need, and I’ll see if I can help in some way:

    Salena Wakim

    4 Dec 12 at 1:57 am

  3. Hi Karen,
    Thanks for your reply, sorry it has taken me so long to back to you. I would welcome your participation. It sounds like your background would lend itself nicely to the development of educational and other informational products regarding the project. We are planning team teleconference this weekend, one focused on new team members. Please provide your email and I will include you on distribution. My email is:
    Mark Severance

    Mark Severance

    7 Dec 12 at 8:35 am

  4. […] national media coverage (even the Today Show), and making an impact (mentorships and now our own “citizen science” research project on the International Space Station!). Thank you for your encouragement along the way. We really […]

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