Archive for the ‘Nature & Outdoors’ Category

Could you be a plant whisperer?

By June 27th, 2017 at 3:41 pm | Comment 1

What are plants trying to tell us?
Take a moment to look at and listen to the plants around you. Are they blooming earlier than usual? Are they playing host to pollinators? Do you know their names? Summer is finally here and the plants in our yards, parks, and schools are probably in full bloom. Below we’ve highlighted four citizen science projects that help you help plants tell their stories. Find more projects and events on SciStarter, to do now or bookmark for later.
Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

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Bat Count: A Citizen Science Story

By January 25th, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Comment

Join Jojo and her family counting bats as citizen scientists in the soon-to-be-released book Bat Count: A Citizen Science Story!

Soon-to-be-released: Bat Count: A Citizen Science Story

It won’t be in stores until the end of February, but you can read — and listen to — a free digital review copy today.  The story, written  by Philadelphia-area author Anna Forrester and illustrated by Susan Detwiler, encourages kids to get involved in citizen science and make it their own.

Forrester worked with Katie Gillies, Director of the Imperiled Species Program at Bat Conservation International, and Catherine J. Hibbard, White-nose Syndrome Communications Leader with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to verify the accuracy of the information in the book.

Bat Count: A Citizen Science Story will be available in bookstores in February 2017 in  hardcover and paperback in English, and in paperback i nSpanish. Preorders are being accepted now and will ship as soon as the books arrive.

For information about ordering the book, including wholesale and non-profit rates, contact Donna German, general manager of Arbordale Publishing, at donna@arbordalepublishing.com

 

And the Squirrels were Merry

By January 21st, 2017 at 8:00 am | Comment

I grew up in Fishtown, Philadelphia, an inner city grid of red-brick row homes, corner bars, candy shops, and barely-breathing factories. Fishtown was not known for its wildlife. There were birds. A wide variety, if two counts as a wide variety: big birds (pigeons) and small birds (sparrows). There were cats and an occasional dog that escaped out of someone’s yard.

On rare occasions, I’d see a squirrel scampering about on the telephone pole in my backyard. This was an occasion to call all the neighbor kids and we would stand there like we were at the zoo. The squirrel stared right back, Philly-style. Read the rest of this entry »

The Poetry of Science at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

By October 26th, 2016 at 10:28 pm | Comment

Carl Sandburg Home National Historical Site stretches over 246 rolling acres in Flat Rock, N.C. The writer and poet Sandburg moved to the property in 1945 for the solitude the natural landscape provides. Today, it is a place where nature, science, and creativity intertwine.

By measuring tree canopy cover, visitors to the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site citizen science trail contribute to research showing how differences in sunlight affect the ecosystem. Photo Credit: Russ Campbell

By measuring tree canopy cover, visitors to the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site citizen science trail contribute to research showing how differences in sunlight affect the ecosystem. Photo Credit: Russ Campbell

Five miles of trails meander throughout the site – some leisurely strolls on walking paths, others intense climbs that summit onto a bucolic overlooks. One trail in particular offers a new and innovative experience that marries the beauty of the setting with the investigative opportunity that inherently exists in nature. The first Kids in Parks Citizen Science TRACK Trail, a program of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, was designed to create and interactive trail experience for children and the adults with them to stop, observe, and reflect on their surroundings.

A canopy of hemlock, maple, and pine shade the mile-long loop that encircles a lake. The citizen science trail guides participants through a series of interactive stations where visitors can measure the age of a tree by counting the rings, test the quality of the water, and observe the weather by reading a thermometer and making observations. Another station provides a bench for visitors to look out across the lake and simply record whatever nature they see. There’s also a place to record your own poem–a nod to Sandburg and the recognition of this site as a tribute to American literature and a reminder of the inexorable link between nature, science, and art.

The view from Little Glassy Mountain, part of the citizen science trail at Carl Sandburg National Historic Site. Credit: Russ Campbell

The view from Little Glassy Mountain, part of the citizen science trail at Carl Sandburg National Historic Site. Photo Credit: Russ Campbell

Administrators at Kids in Parks collect the data, explains director Jason Urroz. “It’s a great way to get kids to collect data and be involved in the science learning process,” he says.

As Carl Sandburg wrote, “Nothing happens unless first we dream.” Park staff themselves had a dream to create a new citizen science trail that would engage visitors in all aspects of what the park has to offer. Supported by the National Park Foundation, they turned this dream into an opportunity to discover the rich and unique environment of the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.

 


Russ Campbell heads communication at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, a private biomedical foundation located in Research Triangle Park, N.C. He is a volunteer with the Turtle Rescue Team, based out of the North Carolina State University Veterinary School. He is the cofounder of the Science Communicators of North Carolina (SCONC).

Saving California’s Seals and Sea Lions

By October 11th, 2016 at 10:58 pm | Comment

We tend to think of famine in human terms. But animal populations also experience wide-spread hunger, and the hundreds of emaciated young seals and sea lions stranded on California beaches in the past year were a poignant example.

Fortunately, a large team of citizen scientists at The Marine Mammal Center—an animal hospital and research institute north of San Francisco—were ready for the challenge. Twenty-eight crews of 15-20 people worked day and night shifts to rescue and rehabilitate the starving pups and yearlings. By July, 2016, about 1200 volunteers and 50 staff members had fought to save 380 sea lions, 220 elephant seals, 120 harbor seals, and 20 Guadalupe fur seals.  Read the rest of this entry »