Archive for the ‘Prize’ Category

Now LIVE! SciStarter Citizen Science Contest with Instructables and Discover Magazine!

By November 16th, 2012 at 11:02 am | Comment

Citizen Science Contest: Submit a solution that makes it easier for people to collaborate with scientists. Win great prizes!Millions of everyday people are helping scientists discover galaxies, measure climate change, track species, monitor air and water pollution, and more through citizen science projects featured on SciStarter. However, like all scientific research, project organizers and participants often run into challenges that can slow progress or limit data collection. Now, you can help!

SciStarter, in partnership with Instructables, and Discover Magazine, invites YOU to come up with solutions to the challenges faced by our community of citizen scientists, researchers and project organizers. Help make their experiences better by coming up with solutions to some real annoyances: stop critters from eating sunflowers planted to observe pollinating bees, help remind volunteers to reset rain gauges and report measurements, link activities to social experiences. Or, dream up your own home-based research project that involves public participation to advance a field of scientific research.

Entries will be accepted on the Instructables Contest Page now through January 21. Winners have a chance to win a variety of prizes listed below.


  • Grand Prize (1 winner): Celestron Telescope, published in an issue of Discover Magazine, subscription to Discover, SciStarter Tshirt, Instructables Prize Pack
  • First Prize (5 winners): Bird Cameras, Timelapse Camera, subscription to Discover, SciStarter Tshirt, Instructables Prize Pack
  • Runners Up (10 winners): Hi capacity rain gauge,subscription to Discover, SciStarter Tshirt, Instructables Prize Pack

The Challenges

To get you started, we’ve listed four specific–and very real–challenges sent to us by project organizers. These problems impact the experience of the participants, and/or the ability of the project to reach its full potential. Select one or more to solve or come up with your own creative solution to a challenge you face as a citizen scientist! If you are the organizer of a citizen science project, you can post your own challenge to your SciStarter Project Page (see “Discussion” tab on the Project Pages). We’ll encourage communities to post their creative solutions to your challenges right on your SciStarter Project Page!

Create inexpensive hail pads

Create a new hail pad!Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) volunteers take and submit measurements of rain, hail, and snow precipitation. These observations are made available for use by the National Weather Service, meteorologists, emergency managers, and others.

The Problem: Hail pads are essential to the CoCoRaHS mission to measure, map, and study hail. Each pad consists of a 12″ by 12″square of Styrofoam covered in Heavy Duty Aluminum foil. However, in recent years, these materials have tripled in cost, which has greatly reduced the number of hail pads that can be produced and distributed.

The Challenge: Create a cheaper hail pad that can measure the number, size, and orientation of hail stones.

Stop critters from eating sunflowers

Stop those critters!The Great Sunflower Project uses data collected by citizen scientists to create an online map of bee populations. Participants grow sunflowers, observe how many bees visit those flowers, and then submit their observations.

The Problem: Critters, like mice and birds, often eat the sunflower seedlings before the bees are able to visit. As a result, some volunteers are unable to collect and submit data.

The Challenge: Create a safe, simple way to ensure the sunflowers are protected from critters and reach maturation.

Help participants submit their data

The more data, the merrier!Project BudBurst engages the public in making careful observations of phenophases, such as first leafing, first flower, and first fruit ripening. Scientists compare this valuable environmental information to historical records and learn about the prevailing climatic characteristics in a region over time.

The Problem: Prospective and current volunteers are often unsure if they have correctly identified plants and phenophases. This may lead to them not submit the data they’ve collected. Other volunteers simply forget to add their data.

The Challenge: Find a way to encourage and remind participants to submit data after making field observations.

Provide 1000 cheap, wireless climate data loggers

Wildlife of your homeWildlife of Our Homes provides an opportunity for citizen scientists to help researchers study the species that live alongside us everyday – bacteria, fungi, and insects. By using a sampling kit and answering a few questions, volunteers help researchers create an atlas of microbial diversity in homes across the country.

The Problem: Project organizers would love to collect climate data in each of the 1000 homes where volunteers are sampling microbes from 4 common surfaces. Unfortunately, climate sensors are expensive, and more importantly, project organizers don’t have an easy way to transfer data from those home sensors (temperature, humidity, etc) to an online database. Currently, they must physically retrieve and download the data.

The Challenge: Find a way to log climate data and wirelessly transmit the data to the project organizers.

Remember to submit ideas for solutions to these and other challenges on the SciStarter Citizen Science Contest Page!

Propose ideas for citizen science sensor to report air quality (win $100,000!).

By June 6th, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Comment

Your air, your healthHave an idea for a wearable or smartphone sensor to help monitor and report air quality information? This just in….new contest presented by Innocentive, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Health and Human Service:
My Air, My Health: An HHS/EPA Challenge

This is a Theoretical Challenge that requires only a written proposal to be submitted.
The Challenge: How do we connect personal devices for testing and reporting of both air quality and linked physiological data? Such a system would enable not only high-resolution mapping of pollutant concentrations, but also support research and reporting of individual physiological responses related to the pollutant.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Health and Human Service envision a future in which powerful, affordable, and portable sensors provide a rich awareness of environmental quality, moment-to-moment physiological changes, and long-term health outcomes. Health care will be connected to the whole environment, improving diagnosis, treatment, and prevention at all levels.
Solve this InnoCentive Challenge and win. Award: $160,000 USD

The details:
Plans to develop personal devices are required – these must sensitively and frequently measure air quality, along with one or more physiological markers linked to the air quality metric that is measured. The system should be designed with input from a community or target population that would benefit from the solution. A design for a personal integrated system is required, together with a development plan and a proposal for a proof of concept study.

Designs and development plans are required for integrated sensor systems that will detect:

Air pollutants – Particulates or individual chemical species
Physiological markers – Health metrics with a citation-supported link to the proposed air pollutants to be measured

The system should also enable transmission of these data, together with time and location stamps, to a central resource. Existing communication architecture and transmission devices (e.g. cellular handsets and networks) should be used to transmit data.

This Challenge is structured in 2 Phases – 4 awards of $15,000 are available to Phase 1 finalists, and a single award of $100,000 is available for the winner of Phase 2:

Phase 1 – Project Plan (no more than 15 pages, not including appendices that may consist of diagrams/schematics, bibliography, and other supplementary materials)

Propose a plausible link between health outcomes and airborne pollutants (chemical species and/or particulates), and provide evidence to support a plausible and physiologically meaningful relationship between airborne pollutants and physiological metrics in a defined population.
Propose a prototype design and development plan for an integrated multi-sensor and data management system that may be easily worn or carried by individuals within the defined target community/population.
Conceptualize data generation, management (may include processing & on-board storage), and transmission functionality of the device.
Propose a small-scale proof-of-concept study to validate the proposed prototype.
Study design process must include input from the target community/population.

Phase 2 – Proof-of-Concept Pilot Project

Finalists attend an event for feedback, questions, and business/entrepreneurial resources prepared by Challenge sponsors (HHS, ONC, NIEHS, EPA).
Finalists develop the proposed prototype and execute experimental validation of the system to bring together data from personal air quality and physiological monitors, showing how these types of data and sensors can be integrated for practical use by health and environmental agencies, and by individual citizens. Proof-of-concept data must illustrate the accuracy and precision of the raw data and of any processed data produced by the system.

This is a Theoretical Challenge that requires only a written proposal to be submitted. The Challenge award will be contingent upon theoretical evaluation of the proposal by the Seeker. To receive an award, the Solvers will not have to transfer their exclusive IP rights to the Seeker. Instead, they will grant to the Seeker non-exclusive license to practice their solutions.

Solve this InnoCentive Challenge and win. Award: $160,000 USD

Categories: Citizen Science,Prize

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CrowdScanner: A social media experiment in crowdsourcing. (Join our team, today!)

By March 31st, 2012 at 8:22 am | Comments (2)

If you see Chuck, take a picture and upoad it, today!

If you see Chuck, take a picture and upoad it, today!

How can social media be used to accomplish a seemingly impossible task? Today, a social experiment called the “Tag Challenge” sends 5 individuals to roam the streets of New York, DC, Bratislava, Stockholm, and London. The task is to locate them before the sun sets based only on their mugshots. You can contribute by taking and uploading pictures of these individuals if you see them, or even just inviting others to participate!
The $5000 prize will be distributed among the participants, to those who submit pictures as well as those who recruit.

For the CrowdScanner team (which includes SciStarter),  the challenge is a chance to study how information propagates through social networks and what it takes for a message to go viral. The lessons we  learn will help us understand successes and failures of social media in recent events. You can become part of the challenge and help the study by joining our team at

For more info, or to sign up, go to:

Who’s the CrowdScanner team?
The team consists of a group of researchers from MIT, UCSD, Masdar Institute, and University of Southampton (including the guys who won the Red Balloon challenge).

What’s Tag Challenge?
Tag Challenge is a competition to acquire pictures of 5 volunteers, each in public in a different major city, in a single day. Due to its geographically distributed nature, the competition can only be won by the crowd-sourced efforts of people like you and me. More at

Spot the most defibrillators in Philly, win $10K!

By January 30th, 2012 at 8:40 am | Comments (6)

Announcing Philadelphia’s newest citizen science project: MyHeartMap Challenge!

Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

This project aims to crowdsource the first-of-its-kind map of Automated External Defibrillators in Philadelphia by photographing AEDs.

When someone collapses and stops breathing, an automated external defibrillator or AED can save their life. [Home AEDs are available for purchase.] In Philadelphia, PA, a city with about 1.5 million people, AEDs are all around us. Near our homes, workplaces, and even grocery stores! Currently, there is no comprehensive map, and, as a result, AEDs are often not used when they are most needed. With the crowdsourced information collected from this contest, the organizers will build a map of AED locations in Philadelphia that can inform 911 services and the public.

The MyHeartMap contest will officially go live January 31, 2012 at 9am! Until then, you can download the app from the iPhone store and Android marketplace and start submitting entries. Clues will be posted at the project website and The contest closes on March 13, 2012, at 6pm ET!

There are three ways to play:

1. Find and photograph the most AEDs in Philadelphia County before March 13, 2012 and win the $10,000 grand prize. The team or individual that finds the most “confirmed,” “eligible” AEDs by the contest end date will receive the grand prize of $10,000.

2. Be the first to submit a photograph of a “Golden”AED and win $50. The organizers have identified between 20 and 200 AEDs in Philadelphia County as “Golden” AEDs. These are unmarked, and you won’t know it’s a winner when you photograph it. Clues will be posted at the MyHeartMap project website.

3. Want to help but not compete for a prize? Submit addresses of locations without AEDs or that you wish had an AED – this is just for fun, and it will help with the map.

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