Archive for the ‘Girl Scouts’ tag

Help Cornell Researchers Find the Lost Ladybugs

By September 7th, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Comment

By: Megan Ray Nichols

It’s always fun to have a ladybug land on your arm while outside — but these days, it’s more and more likely that any ladybugs landing on you or the plants in your garden are not native to North America. Over the past three decades, several ladybug species native to North America have all but disappeared from the landscape. At the same time, other species, introduced from Europe and Asia, have proliferated.  What’s happening to our native ladybugs, and where can they still be found? Researchers at Cornell University created The Lost Ladybug Project to find this out.

What is the Lost Ladybug Project?

Nine-spotted Ladybug Beetle. Credit: Rob Haley (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Lost Ladybug Project is a citizen science endeavor that originated at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, that seeks to find out more about native species, such as the rare nine-spotted ladybug, as well as the non-natives that seem to be taking their place. Volunteers across the country look for ladybugs in their yards, gardens, or other locations. When volunteers spot ladybugs, they share a photograph and the location where the photo was taken with the Cornell researchers. They use this information to learn more about where our native ladybugs are found, how many there might be, and what effect the changing distribution of ladybugs may have on local ecosystems.

Ladybugs eat plant-eating bugs like aphids, which can damage roses and many other garden plants, but their overall impact on the ecosystem remains largely unknown.  The populations change quickly, making scientists worry about what impact these changes might have on the local ecosystems.

Perfect for Students or Science Clubs

For students, there’s nothing better than a lesson spent outside. Getting your students involved in the Lost Ladybug Project is a great way to help the Cornell researchers while immersing students in hands-on field work. The project also could be a great fit for science clubs or for organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts; both organizations have nature- and outdoor-themed badges  and participating in this project could help scouts attain them.

The project also spans multiple academic subjects, offering a deeper learning experience..For example:

  • Science — Just spotting the ladybugs and learning to identify the different subspecies is a science lesson in itself; as is learning about the insect’s lifecycle.
  • Math — For young students, start by counting the spots and adding them up. Older students could use basic statistics to estimate the current ladybug population based on available information.
  • Art — Who doesn’t love drawing ladybugs?
  • Reading — There are dozens of titles, for all age groups, that revolve around, or at least mention, ladybugs.
  • History — Ladybugs aren’t just pest-eaters. In many cultures, they’re considered good luck.  Spend some time researching the history of ladybug superstitions.

Lost Ladybug Project field guide. Credit: The Lost Ladybug Project

What Do You Need to Get Started?

All you need to get started with the Lost Ladybug Project is a few willing minds and a few pairs of sharp eyes, but many tools exist to help you along the way.

  1. Lesson plans and other printables: The project itself has created a number of lesson plans, lists and printables to use in conjunction with your lessons.
  2. Insect catching equipment: You don’t want to harm the ladybugs as you capture them. Invest in some nets or other capture equipment as well as some proper containers for holding the ladybugs while you observe and photograph them.
  3. A digital camera or camera phone: If you want to participate in the Lost Ladybug Project, you need to photograph your captured ladybugs. Once photographed, you can upload them to the project’s site, along with information such as discovery location and habitat.

That’s it — you don’t need much more than a bug net and a camera to get involved with the Lost Ladybug Project, and they can use all the help they can get. Once you’ve found your first few ladybugs and uploaded your findings, your students won’t want to stop hunting for them. And remember — even if you don’t find any ladybugs on one of your searches, zeroes are useful data too.


Megan Ray Nichols is a freelance science writer and the editor of Schooled By Science. She regularly writes for The Naked Scientists, Astronomy Magazine, and IoT Evolution. When she isn’t writing, Megan enjoys exploring new hiking trails, finding a new book to read or catching up on episodes of Dr. Who. Keep in touch with Megan by following her on Twitter and subscribing to her blog.

Want more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With 1100+ citizen science projects spanning every field of research, task and age group, there’s something for everyone!

A new, national “Think Like a Citizen Scientist” Girl Scouts journey!

By July 25th, 2017 at 9:38 pm | Comment

girl scouts citizen science scistarter badge
A new Think Like a Citizen Scientist Girl Scouts journey was released this morning in collaboration with SciStarter as part of the Girl Scouts of USA’s announcement that it is adding 23 new badges related to science, technology, engineering, math and the outdoors. Girl Scouts can now earn badges through activities like programming robots, citizen science, designing model race cars, writing code and going on environmentally conscious camping trips. The Girl Scouts of the USA, founded in 1912, created these badges in collaboration with organizations like Code.org, SciStarter, GoldieBlox and the Society of Women Engineers.
Here’s more information on the Think Like a Citizen Scientist Journey
Here’s more information on the Girl Scouts’ STEM initiatives
“Girl Scouts is thrilled to collaborate with SciStarter on new citizen science programming, which will allow girls around the country to substantively contribute to and impact research that professional scientists are conducting,” said GSUSA CEO Sylvia Acevedo. “Connecting Girl Scouts with SciStarter’s enriching platform further enhances our engaging and comprehensive STEM programming. Girls who participate in the ‘Think Like a Citizen Scientist’ series will be fully immersed in the scientific process—some for the first time―as well as gain a broadened understanding that science is for everyone.”
“Girl Scout programs inspire and support girls to take action on an issue, and make their efforts sustainable,” said Darlene Cavalier, Founder of SciStarter and Professor of Practice at Arizona State University. “We are excited to help mobilize Girl Scouts across the country to advance scientific research while applying new SciStarter 2.0 analytics tools so the Girl Scouts of the USA can understand what types of citizen science projects appeal to girls, and use that information to continue to offer even more relevant and impactful STEM programming for girls.”
Girls will earn their badges by completing one of seven citizen science projects with the option of continuing their Journey with their choice of 30 additional, vetted projects featured on SciStarter. The selected projects exemplify ways citizen science can engage people of all ages to advance scientific research. The projects use clear protocols, and simple tools and instruments, making them accessible for Girl Scout troops and leaders across the country. The seven projects get girls engaged in science in the outdoors in a new, unique way.  Finally, the projects integrate SciStarter affiliate tools, making it possible for the Girl Scouts to use SciStarter’s analytics to understand what types of projects attract, engage, and sustain involvement among girls. The seven projects are:
Stream Selfie, Ant Picnic, Project Squirrel, iSeeChange, NASA GLOBE Observer, Nature’s Notebook, Globe at Night.
The “Think Like a Citizen Scientist” Journey—a form of Girl Scout programming that includes several troop meetings dedicated to the topic—begins in a Girl Scout troop and online with SciStarter. A troop learns how to make and share careful observations to contribute to research efforts. Next, the troop decides how to take action: they discuss the scientific research they’ve done and identify a related problem, come up with a creative and sustainable solution, put a team plan into action, and document their project on SciStarter. The girls have now earned an award for completing the “Think Like a Citizen Scientist” Journey!
If you manage a project you’d like us to consider for the “additional projects” or future Journeys, please add it to the SciStarter project finder and email GirlScouts@SciStarter.com to indicate your interest.
Our goal at SciStarter is to help as many people as possible discover and participate in awesome projects!
Now…please go encourage your favorite Girl Scout to begin her journey to Think Like A Citizen Scientist!

Categories: girl scouts

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Girl Scouts and Citizen Science at the Atlanta Science Festival

By March 21st, 2017 at 11:50 am | Comment

SciStarter and the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta will be at the Atlanta Science Festival Expo on March 25th to help collect important cloud data for NASA. You are invited to join us!

Local Girl Scouts will show you how to help NASA ground-truth satellite data by identifying clouds, making observations, and adding your photos to the GLOBE.gov Observer database. If you can make it, just look for a Girl Scout (they’ll be in uniform) or stop by the SciStarter booth to get started.

We will also be taking “selfies for science” using the FaceTopo app to build a taxonomy of facial features AND teaching Atlanta residents how to find and research common beetles through the Backyard Bark Beetles project.

Science Cheerleader Christina will join us to engage more volunteers, talk about her career(s) and sign autographs at 12pm. Christina is a software engineer and former Atlanta Hawks cheerleader. Learn more about her in a recent interview!

We hope to see you in Atlanta!