Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Become a Citizen Scientist

I received this challenge today in my inbox from the My Wonderful World Blog. I think some of you might be interested in some of these "Citizen Scientist" projects.
The following information is from Melissa at My Wonderful World Blog.

Have you ever witnessed the crocuses blooming a little earlier than usual or noticed a new species at your bird feeder, and thought, "I wonder if others in my community are seeing the same things?" Wouldn't it be neat if your backyard observations could be included in real scientific investigations? With citizen science, they can be! Through citizen science, members of the public collaborate with professionals to conduct scientific studies. Citizen science is a fun, family-friendly way to get outside, explore the distribution of species (biogeography) in your local area, fine-tune your observation and analytical skills, and contribute to real science and conservation efforts. Recent reports have even indicated that participation in citizen science projects has positive impacts on children's cognitive and psychological development and their attitudes toward nature as adults. Our July challenge- sign up to participate in at least one of the following citizen science programs:

Cornell Ornithology Lab's
1. Birds in Forested Landscapes: BFL is a study of birds and the habitats that they live in. Participants record types of trees, sizes, ages, elevations and latitudes. Then, they observe the birds and habitats at three levels: the survey point, the study site and the surrounding landscape.

2. Celebrate Urban Birds: This activity is designed for even the most inexperienced citizen scientists. Participants receive an activity kit with a poster and information on urban greening and bird identification. They learn how to identify 16 types of birds and then make observations at specific 10 minute time intervals.

3. Priority Migrant eBird: In an attempt to create conservation strategies for long-distance migratory species that have been experiencing population decline, this activity collects data across the Americas. Contributors submit records and observations for five species: the Cerulean Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Canada Warbler, and the Olive-sided Flycatcher.

Lost Lady Bug
Participants help Cornell scientists identify rare ladybug species that live around the country. They collect ladybugs using the "How to Guide," then photograph the ladybugs and upload the images along with the time, date and location via an online submission form.

An initiative of the Museum of Science in Boston and the National Children's Museum, the Ready, Set, Glow! project gets children involved in research and learning about fireflies.
Children use their senses to collect data through observation and fun activities.

Project Budburst
Through Budburst, citizen scientists research plants and climate change. First, participants use a list to identify a plant and describe where it is located (including latitude and longitude). They then determine the phenological stage using a field guide. Finally, observations are recorded online.

Earthwatch Institute engages people worldwide in research and conservation activities. Earthwatch's research is related to sustainable development in a variety of fields. Participants can join in expeditions almost anywhere on the planet!

At Galaxy Zoo, participants help classify almost a quarter of a million galaxies into different categories by shape. Classifiers are shown images and asked questions regarding the features that mark different types of galaxies. This information is used to discover distance to and age of galaxies, as well as other pieces of vital information.

GLOBE at Night collects data from 110 countries to aid scientists in researching patterns of light pollution across the globe. Participants go star-hunting by first finding their latitude and longitude. Then, they identify the constellation Orion and match the nighttime sky above them to one of GLOBE's charts. Observations are reported online and compared to others around the world!

This study follows the migration patterns of Monarch Butterflies from Mexico to the Northern United States. Participants keep a journal and report their observations in order to predict a migration route.

With FrogWatch, participants help scientists conserve amphibians. FrogWatch volunteers gather information about frog abundance in hopes of increasing awareness about nationwide amphibian decline.

I haven't checked out all of the programs yet, but I am very excited to participate in a few of these! The Little Ladies and I have participated in Journey North and one of Cornell's orinthology projects with great results!


Joy said...

Those are some neat projects! We might have to get in on a few of them too. ;)

Stephanie said...

We've checked out Frog Watch... you know... 'cause I love frogs...
and I like Earth Watch, too.

What I really want to do is get Backyard Habitat certified!!

Many of these look great, we'll have to check them out.

Thanks, Lisa!!

Tara said...

Frog watch would sort of be a good fit for us, don't you think ? LOL

What is that cool doodad your lovely daughter is holding??

Kirsten Dobson for My Wonderful World said...

It's great to see interest in this month's My Wonderful World "challenge"! Good luck with whichever citizen science endeavor you decide to explore, we look forward to reading your blog and thank you for your support. :)

Starry Nites said...

How neat! When I was a kid, a woman who led the local Audubon bird count program helped me become an "official" bird census taker for Audubon. I think they still have the program, which involves counting birds in your backyard and feeders on a regular basis and sending in reports. We also registered our yard with the National Wildlife Federation as a Backyard Wildlife habitat, and we have a sign posted on our property to tell people it is a place for animals to live. (It's very easy to get the certification, but it's also a nice way to spread the idea that people and nature can find ways to coexist! We don't have to have manicured, chemically-treated lawns; nature is so much more interesting!)

Anonymous said...

My friend and I were recently discussing about how we as human beings are so hooked onto electronics. Reading this post makes me think back to that debate we had, and just how inseparable from electronics we have all become.

I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside... I just hope that as technology further develops, the possibility of copying our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could see in my lifetime.

(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=http://cid-2602f0e287041cef.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!2602F0E287041CEF!106.entry]R4[/url] DS ZKwa)