Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category

SciStarter’s founder appointed to NAS committee on Citizen Science

By July 11th, 2017 at 12:04 am | Comment

Written by Adam Gabriele, Arizona State University. Originally published on ASUNow.

There’s an exciting change under way in the scientific community. Citizens with an avid interest in science are getting the chance to contribute to real research through data collection and analysis in collaboration with professional scientists.

Darlene Cavalier and Kiki Jenkins

Darlene Cavalier (left) and Kiki Jenkins

These “citizen scientists” — tinkerers and enthusiasts of all stripes — are being given the tools and platforms to turn their interests into real research, perhaps minimizing or even bringing to an end the stark division between academia and society.Darlene Cavalier and Kiki Jenkins, professors from the School for the Future of Innovation in Society.Download Full Image

In 2016, ASU hosted the Citizen Science Maker Summit, organized by Darlene Cavalier, professor of practice with ASU’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society (SFIS).

Diving in and developing creative solutions is a characteristic that “mirrors that of the millions of citizen scientists around the world who are contributing to our understanding of the world and how we can solve today’s problems,” Cavalier said.

ASU isn’t the only institution that’s caught on to the increasing relevance of citizen science.

The National Academy of Sciences has formed the Committee on Designing Citizen Science to Support Science Learning to identify and describe existing citizen science projects that support science learning in both formal and informal settings. The committee will develop a set of evidence-based principles to guide the design of citizen science.

Cavalier, founder of SciStarter — an online platform for identifying, supporting, and participating in citizen science opportunities, was invited to be a member of the committee.

“I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to work with the committee to address an important gap in citizen science literature:  understanding how to design citizen science so it can better support deeper forms of science learning,” she said.

The committee plans to evaluate the potential of citizen science to support science learning, lay out a research agenda to improve that potential, and identify promising practices and programs.

Cavalier is also the co-founder of the Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) network, co-editor of The Rightful Place of Science: Citizen Science, and a member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology.

Lekelia “Kiki” Jenkins, assistant professor at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, has also been named a founding member of the committee.

Jenkins is an award-winning marine conservation scientist who has published extensively on adult science learning in fishery learning exchanges. She is a Ford Foundation Fellow, a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow, and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow.

“I’m honored to be selected to serve on the National Academies of Science Committee on Designing Citizen Science to Support Science Learning,” Jenkins said. “Serving on an NAS committee helps fulfil one of my career aspirations.”

Jenkins has already begun to implement a process for creating a consensus definition of citizen science, which, she said, “is a critical first step in the committee’s work.”

 

Citizen Science Isn’t Just About Collecting Data

By August 16th, 2016 at 11:19 am | Comment

Nonscientists should take part in discussions about research priorities and more.
This article, Citizen Science Isn’t Just About Collecting Data, originally appeared in Slate AUG. 15 2016 7:31 AM
The earthquake near Washington, D.C., five years ago in August 2011—the one that damaged the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral but had little other noticeable impact—caught me by surprise. Sitting in an office on the 12th floor of a building downtown, I thought it might have been an improbably large truck on the street below, until a co-worker suggested we probably ought to leave the building. We spent the rest of that sunny afternoon milling around with other office workers before calling it a day and heading to happy hour.

What I did not do, but really wish that I had, was enter a description of my experience into the U.S. Geological Survey’s crowdsourcing initiative, Did You Feel It? The system collects data from people who have felt tremors to determine the extent and intensity of earthquakes in near-real time. The submitted data are used in the USGS ShakeMaps, which help organizations like the Federal Emergency Management Agency prepare for and respond to earthquakes.
Read the full article here.

Categories: In the News

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Crowdsource Your Data Collection?

By July 6th, 2016 at 9:32 am | Comment

Here are some excerpts from a recent article about SciStarter, as originally published by Environmental BioPhyics, “a group of scientists passionate about measuring the environment.”

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Measuring and Modeling the Environment

Credit: EnvironmentalPhyics.org

Credit: EnvironmentalPhyics.org

Crowdsource Your Data Collection?

What can you do when you need data from all over the world in a short amount of time?  Many scientists, including ones at JPL/NASA, are crowdsourcing their data collection.

Darlene Cavalier, Professor of Practice at Arizona State University is the founder of SciStarter, a website where scientists make data collection requests to a community of volunteers who are interested in collecting and analyzing data for scientific research.

Cavalier is determined to create pathways between citizen science and citizen science policy. She says, “The hope is after people engage in citizen science projects, they will want to participate in deliberations around related science policy. Or perhaps policy decision makers will want to be part of the discovery process by contributing or analyzing scientific data.”  Darlene has partnered with Arizona State University and other organizers to form a very active network called Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST).  This group seeks to unite citizens, scientific experts, and government decision makers in discussions evaluating science policy. Cavaliers says, “The process allows us to discover ethical and societal issues that may not come up if there were only scientists and policy makers in a room.  It’s a network which allows us to take these conversations out of Washington D.C.  The conversations may originate and ultimately circle back there, but the actual public deliberations are held across the country, so we get a cross-section of input from different Americans.” ECAST has been contracted by NASA, NOAA, the Department of Energy, and others to explore specific policy questions that would benefit from the public’s input.

Overcoming Obstacles

Another obstacle to some types of research is access to instrumentation.  Darlene comments, “The NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) project really opened our eyes to how many obstacles can exist between the spectrum of recruiting, training, equipping, and fully engaging a participant.”  This year, SciStarter is building a database of citizen science tools and instruments and will begin to create the digital infrastructure to map tools to people and projects through a “Build, Borrow, Buy” function on project pages.

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“The NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) project really opened our eyes to how many obstacles can exist to full engagement.”

What’s Next?

Darlene says that sometimes scientists who want accurate data without knowing about or identifying a particular sensor for participants to use often create room for data errors.   To address this problem, SciStarter and Arizona State University will be hosting a Citizen Science Maker summit this fall where scientists, citizen scientists, and commercial developers of instrumentation will meet to determine if it’s possible to fill gaps to develop and scale access to inexpensive, modular instruments that could be used in different types of research.  You can learn more about crowdsourcing your data collection with SciStarter.

Read the full article: Crowdsource Your Data Collection?

SciStarter founder and Professor at ASU’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society appointed to EPA Advisory Council.

By July 3rd, 2016 at 11:14 am | Comment

Darlene Cavalier headshotSciStarter founder and Professor at School for the Future of Innovation in Society at ASU , appointed to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Advisory Council .

Darlene Cavalier has been invited to serve as a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology. The council provides independent advice to the agency’s Administrator on environmental-policy, technological and management issues. Cavalier will represent ASU’s Center for Engagement & Training in Science & Society (CENTSS) and will serve for two years.

Cavalier spoke at the White House Water Summit in March regarding two initiatives she leads: SciStarter and Science Cheerleader. Cavalier also appeared in an interview for SciTech Now , in which she spoke about the great variety of opportunities for citizens to contribute to ongoing scientific projects available through SciStarter.

The Science Cheerleaders (current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders who are also scientists and engineers) frequently engage people in these citizen science opportunities.

 

rightful place of science coverInterested in learning more about Citizen Science? Order a copy of The Rightful Place of Science: Citizen Science, (Cavalier, Kennedy 2016). It’s been called “the best introduction to the dynamic landscape of citizen science and those seeking to expand its boundaries. ” Bill Nye the Science Guy agrees: “Do you look at the world around you and try to figure out what’s going on? Do you like to think? You can do citizen science. Start with this book.” Now available on Amazon.com 

Categories: In the News

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Philadelphia Inquirer and SciStarter partner to inform and engage millions of readers and local science leaders in citizen science

By April 8th, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Comment


philly inq
A “citizen science” movement is sweeping the country and now millions of Philadelphians who want to collaborate with leading scientists can visit Philly.com to join cutting-edge research projects.

The Philadelphia Media Network (Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly.com and Philadelphia Daily News) is teaming up with SciStarter, a Philadelphia-based company with global reach, to present featured citizen science projects, events, and instruments through a dynamic project showcase and blog.  Each week, SciStarter’s editorial team will feature a new opportunity for millions of Philadelphians to take part in, from SciStarter’s curated Project Finder. There will be something for everyone, ranging from opportunities to analyze and classify cancer cells online to participating in outdoor bioblitzes to track migratory paths of local species and more.  The goal is to make it simple for everyone to jump in and contribute to scientific research. Read the rest of this entry »