12 Days of Christmas with Citizen Science (seriously!)

By Eva Lewandowski December 22nd, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Comment

Photo: John Ohab

Photo: John Ohab

The holiday season is upon us! In the spirit of the season, we’ve put together another edition of our annual 12 Days of Christmas Newsletter. ANNNNNNNND…as our gift to you, we’ve made it possible for you to track your citizen science contributions and interests in one place! Check out the beta version of SciStarter 2.0. Sign up, complete your profile, and earn credit for your awesome contributions to research!

Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

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Quality and quantity with citizen science

By Caren Cooper December 21st, 2016 at 4:57 pm | Comment

Citizen science is a range of activities and projects through which people from all walks of life help advance scientific discovery. Citizen scientists bring science into the mainstream and make science relevant to their lives. As a scientist, I rely on citizen scientists as research collaborators. As a blogger, I’ve become a citizen science advocate giving three cheers to discoveries and projects. Every time I share stories about citizen science, the most frequent response I receive is skepticism about data quality. How could people – veritable strangers – without formal training in the sciences be of any authentic use to professional scientific research projects? How can people without scientific credential do work of sufficient quality to result in products of genuine scientific value? Is it really possible for science-society collaborations involving individuals with highly variable levels of expertise to produce reliable and trustworthy knowledge? Read the rest of this entry »

Eat, Sleep, Repeat: Crowdsourcing The Data Of A Baby’s Typical Day

By Kaitlin Vortherms December 14th, 2016 at 12:26 pm | Comment

babysleepstudy_logo_1For many new parents, trying to figure out what a baby needs can feel like taking care of a tiny alien. It doesn’t speak your language and yet you have to figure out what it needs to stay alive. And while there is no shortage of advice about how to manage your child’s eating and sleeping patterns, there hasn’t been much new research in this area to inform parents and pediatricians. So how do you know if you’re getting it right?

This is the gap researchers at New York University are bridging in the Baby Sleep Study, which aims to create a large database of eating and sleeping patterns in babies from across the world.  In particular, the researchers note that developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders, are often associated with disrupted sleep or digestion. By tracking these behaviors starting in infancy, the researchers hope to pinpoint just how early these patterns begin to emerge. Read the rest of this entry »

Winter Birding- Seasonal Citizen Science for Everyone!

By Eva Lewandowski December 8th, 2016 at 4:47 pm | Comment

Photo: USFWS

Photo: USFWS

Citizen scientists have been studying birds for over 100 years, and some of the most popular projects involve observing birds throughout the winter.  Below, we highlight five projects that study birds during the winter.  Whether you want to watch birds while outdoors or from the comfort of your home, we have a project for you!  Find more with the SciStarter Project Finder.

Cheers!
The SciStarter Team

Photo: USFWS
Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey
In the United States, volunteers are needed in the first half of January to look for eagles along standard survey routes. It’s always a treat to count these majestic birds!

Photo: USFWS
Puget Sound Seabird Survey 
From October to April, volunteers in Washington state walk the coastline counting overwintering water birds. Data are collected on over 50 species!

Photo: USFWS
South Texas Wintering Birds
Many birds spend the winter in South Texas. If you go birding anywhere in the region, either in an urban or rural area, report your bird sightings to this project.

Photo: Jean Pennycock
Study Adelie Penguin Breeding
This is a great project for classrooms in November through January. Using online photos and data from Antarctica, students can study Adelie Penguin behavior. The project offers many online resources for educators.

Photo: USFWS
Project FeederWatch
If you enjoy watching birds from your window, this is the perfect project for you! In North America, citizen scientists can observe and report on the birds visiting their feeders during the winter months.

Help SciStarter help you! Take this 10 minute survey on what information you find most important about projects. Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With 1100+ projects spanning every field of research, task and age group, there’s something for everyone!

Making Citizen Science Tools Discoverable and Accessible

By Erica Prange December 4th, 2016 at 9:08 am | Comment

At SciStarter, we aim to make it easy to find and join meaningful citizen science projects. Choose a location, activity, or topic to find appropriate adventures and learn more about the project and what tools (sensors, digital scales, rain gauges, etc) are needed to participate. But, for many projects and would-be participants, there are challenges to accessing the right tools for the job. (We define “tools” as equipment not usually found at home.) So, we took the follow steps to find a solution and are ready for your help to populate a new database of citizen science tools.

Step One: We interviewed 110 people about their citizen science tool needs.

Through participation in the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps for Learning program, a collaboration of researchers between SciStarter and Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society and ASU’s School of Engineering adapted lean launch methods to explore and develop a better understanding of the ecosystem of stakeholders around citizen science tools. Read the rest of this entry »