Archive for the ‘Philadelphia’ tag

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 »

Science Festivals and Hack Days!

By April 7th, 2014 at 4:38 pm | Comment

April is the month for science festivals. Join the SciStarter team at a festival near you later on this month — bring yourselves, and we’ll bring the citizen science!

Cambridge Science Festival

Friday, April 18 – Sunday, April 27

Come check out the diverse spectrum of citizen science projects out there! On April 19th during the Science Carnival event, our friends at EyeWire, Games With Words, GoViral, NOVA Labs, Public Lab, and Project MERCCURI will be joining us and demonstrating how to participate in their projects.



USA Science & Engineering Festival

Saturday, April 26 – Sunday, April 27

SciStarter will be partnering up with PaleoQuest to demonstrate their Shark Finder project. The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center will also be coming by to tell you about their new citizen science initiatives! Project MERCCURI will also be on deck. Stop by and say hello!

HACK DAYS! SciStarter is hosting a hack event in D.C. (4/26 to 4/27) to develop open APIs for citizen science. If you’re interested in participating, sign up here!


Philadelphia Science Festival

Friday, April 25 – Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Philly SciFest always brings a plethora of activities to choose from! SciStarter and Project MERCCURI will have a booth during the Science Carnival event on May 3rd. Come help us end this season of science festivals with a bang!

HACK DAY! SciStarter is hosting a hack event in Philly (4/9) to develop open APIs for citizen science. If you’re interested in participating, sign up here!


Interested in volunteering with us for any (or all) of these events? Shoot an e-mail to!

Incentives for citizen scientists: report, recruit, verify

By February 24th, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Comment


For most people, a citizen science project provides a way to address a specific scientific challenge with the help of volunteers. For a group of researchers from MIT, UCSD, Masdar Institute, and University of Southampton, it is also an opportunity to study what motivates people to join the project.

Would you rather receive a badge, appear on the leader board, or become the top-contributor among your friends? Is a dinner with the project organizers a better motivator? Or, are payments more appropriate for different types of projects?

In addition to data collection, we emphasize two other common ways of providing a relevant contribution to crowdsourcing projects: recruitment of new participants and verification of collected data. Recruitment is crucial to the success of any crowdsourcing project. Can we help the search for volunteers by providing referral incentives to participants who already signed up? Our team is led by Manuel Cebrian and Iyad Rahwan, the winners of the DARPA Red Balloon Challenge, where payments for referrals proved to be effective.

For many projects, collecting data is only half of the story. What if some of the reports are inaccurate due to honest mistakes and misunderstandings, or worse, due to malicious participants? In most projects, the amount of data is so large that verification must be crowdsourced as well. How does one perform verification with the least overhead and the highest degree of confidence? We are looking for answers by experimenting with various ways of distributing verification tasks and incentives to complete them.

While there is not going to be a one-size-fits-all approach, we expect to identify which set of incentive and verification techniques is most likely to be effective for various classes of crowdsourcing projects. We are currently participating in the MyHeartMap challenge that was recently featured on SciStarter.

Join our team to help us learn more about incentive and verification mechanisms, while creating a life-saving Automated External Defibrillators map in Philadelphia. And, stay tuned for more developments as we explore ways to enhance the experiences of both the citizens and the scientists involved in projects featured right here on SciStarter.

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This is a guest post from Victor Naroditskiy, a postdoc in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton.

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.

Read the rest of this entry »