National Moth Week is Back!

By Guest July 24th, 2016 at 9:54 am | Comment

Hummingbird Moth (Photo Credit: Larry Lamsa CC BY SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

Hummingbird Moth (Photo Credit: Larry Lamsa CC BY SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

by Nohra Murad

It’s that exciting time of year again: it’s National Moth Week!

But not just any National Moth Week. NMW 2016 marks the fifth year that the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission has run National Moth Week (NMW), a time for citizen scientists to go out moth-ing in their community. This year’s NMW will be run from July 23 to 31.

David Moskowitz and Liti Haramaty of the commission have been running Moth Nights in their local community since 2005. Since then, Moth Night has turned into an entire week for everyone from the seasoned biologist to the curious toddler to celebrate nature’s diversity together.

What’s so interesting about moths? They’re too often overlooked, but that’s usually because of their incredible ability to blend in with our environment. With wings camouflaged to look like tree bark or dark leaves, they aren’t noticeable, but once they’re flying, their real beauty goes on display.

Moths are also most active during the night, making for great citizen scientist events that can be anything from a grand “moth-ball” to a calm night on your own porch. All that you’ll need is a camera and a nice, strong light to photograph your findings and contribute to the ever-growing database of moth types.

Like any critter, moths will look a little different from place to place, but it’s not until moths of all different sizes and patterns are gathered in one place that you can see how diverse they really are. The same idea works with humans! Anyone can explore the secret night life of moths.

Check out NMW’s map of official events happening near you. There’s lots of exciting ways to get moth-ing!

If you won’t be here for NMW, no worries: the Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) has an online database year-round for citizen scientists to submit their pictures of moths, butterflies, and caterpillars. You can read about the opportunity here on SciStarter’s website and join in anytime.


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!

Opportunity to sponsor first-of-its-kind summit to unite Citizen Science and Maker communities!

By Darlene Cavalier July 23rd, 2016 at 11:43 pm | Comment

Arizona State University Citizen Science Maker Summit

Opportunity to sponsor first-of-its-kind summit to unite

Citizen Science and Maker communities!

Your support can increase the success of our efforts to develop a robust Citizen Science Maker community – one that can respond to the national need of bridging the demand for low-cost instruments so that citizens can contribute to scientific data and discovery.

The Citizen Science Maker Summit is a two-day event hosted by Arizona State University, in partnership with SciStarter, a research affiliate of ASU, and designed to facilitate the sharing of best practices between citizen science and Maker communities. The event will include a combination of national leaders from both communities as keynote speakers, topical sessions, skill-building workshops, and networking events. Experts from the Making and Citizen Science communities leadership roles including signatories of the recent letter to President Obama, ”Fostering a Generation of Makers” and supporters of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s memorandum entitled “Addressing Societal and Scientific Challenges through Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing.” They will also discuss and lead interactive sessions on how to:

– infuse elements of making into existing citizen science projects and vice versa;
– expand university and community access to makers and citizen scientists;
– engage the K-12 and higher ed community in citizen science and making;
– connect makers with citizen scientists, researchers, Maker to Manufacturing experts;
– collaborate to build a database of low cost citizen science tools on SciStarter.

A total of 130 invited audience members are expected. All attendees will have the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences, share and learn best practices, and connect with educators, thought leaders and researchers committed to maker education and citizen science.

The Citizen Science Maker Summit will take place at the ASU Chandler Innovation Center (ACIC), an engineering and technology-based education and research hub located in the heart of downtown Chandler, Arizona. ACIC is used to host classes for ASU students along with workshops and events for the community. TechShop also operates in the space and is instrumental to the workshop. The Chandler TechShop is the most renowned maker space in the Southwest.

To learn more about sponsorship opportunities or to discuss customized sponsorship packages for the Citizen Science Maker Summit, email Cindy Dick, program manager at Cindy.Dick@asu.edu.

Grand Sponsor / $15,000
● Presenting sponsorship rights, verbal recognition at Summit and in press releases
● Two minutes to verbally welcome attendees
● Six tickets to the Citizen Science Maker Summit
● Vendor table (or booth space ~ supplied by the sponsor) at Summit reception
● Logo on Citizen Science Maker Summit promotional event emails
● Logo on sponsorship signage/program at the Citizen Science Maker Summit
● Logo on the Citizen Science Maker Summit website with hyperlink to company’s page
● Logo in all produced videos related to the Citizen Science Maker Summit
● Mentions from ASU social media networks

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Gold Sponsor / $10,000
● Four tickets to the Citizen Science Maker Summit
● Vendor table at the Citizen Science Maker Summit reception
● Logo on Citizen Science Maker Summit promotional event emails
● Logo on sponsorship signage/program at the Citizen Science Maker Summit
● Logo on Citizen Science Maker Summit website with hyperlink to company’s page
● Logo in all produced videos related to the Citizen Science Maker Summit
● Mentions from ASU social media networks

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Maroon Sponsor / $5,000
● Two tickets to the Citizen Science Maker Summit
● Vendor space at the Citizen Science Maker Summit reception
● Logo on Citizen Science Maker Summit promotional event emails
● Logo on sponsorship signage/program at the Citizen Science Maker Summit
● Logo on Citizen Science Maker Summit website with hyperlink to company’s page
● Logo in all produced videos related to the Citizen Science Maker Summit
● Mentions from ASU

asu

PocketLab + SciStarter = a [citizen] science lab that fits in your pocket.

By Darlene Cavalier July 23rd, 2016 at 12:06 am | Comment

Screen shot 2016-07-22 at 11.10.08 PM

PocketLab connects with a single button to a smart phone, tablet, Chromebook, or computer and instantly streams data that you can see and record. PocketLab measures motion, acceleration, angular velocity, magnetic field, pressure, altitude, and temperature. Using the PocketLab app, you can easily analyze your data, create graphs, and integrate your data with other software. PocketLab has the same features as lab equipment that costs thousands of dollars but is low cost and intuitive to use.

use coupon code SCISTARTER and save $20 per order!

Use coupon code SCISTARTER and save $20 per order!

SciStarter and PocketLab have teamed up to make it easier for citizen scientists to access PocketLab.

Click here to purchase a PocketLab and be sure to type SCISTARTER as your “coupon code” to receive a discount on your purchase. AND…PocketLab will donate a portion of all sales to SciStarter! A win/win for citizen science!

Soon, we’ll help hundreds of PocketLab owners find awesome citizen science projects in need of their experiments and data!

Here’s more information on PocketLab. If you purchase one, we’d love to hear what you think of it and how you used it!

Poké Around With Citizen Science

By Guest July 22nd, 2016 at 1:39 am | Comment

It's taking the world by storm. How can citizen science benefit? (Credit: Eduardo Woo/(CC BY-SA 2.0)

It’s taking the world by storm. How can citizen science benefit? (Credit: Eduardo Woo/(CC BY-SA 2.0)

by Jennifer Cutraro

By now, you’ve surely seen, heard about, or even joined the hordes of people wandering about outdoors,  phones held right in front of their faces. In the two weeks since Pokémon Go’s release, there’s been much ado about the game: how it gets people outdoors, how it promotes physical activity, how it’s already sparked a robust community of haters, and the risks of playing the game without paying attention to your surroundings.

Risks aside, I’m not the first to be jumping-up-and-down excited about the educational and research opportunities this presents. Within days of Pokémon Go’s launch, entomologist Morgan Jackson created the hashtag #PokeBlitz — a clever mashup of Pokémon and BioBlitz, a type of time-limited biodiversity scavenger hunt. He and a community of scientists and educators are using it on Twitter to help other gamers identify the IRL — in real life — plants and animals they encounter while on their Pokémon adventures. It’s a great way to learn about the plants and animals that share your neighborhood.

Pokémon Go also presents a great opportunity for citizen science — if you’re already out looking for charmeleon and poliwrath, you can contribute to one of many projects around the country looking for information about the (actual)  plants, animals, and even stars you see right in your neighborhood. Here are some projects to help you get started:

If you have no idea what kind of tree, bird, or mushroom you’ve found, that’s  no problem. After you share a photo on Twitter with the #PokeBlitz hashtag, send it along to iNaturalist, where a team of amateur naturalists can also help identify the species you found. iNaturalist has a free app that makes it easy for you to share photos with their community, including a “Help Me ID This Species” button. Every photograph you share with iNaturalist contributes valuable data to scientists monitoring species occurrences around the world. Browse their site to check out photos of plants and animals others in your local community have shared with iNaturalist — a simple and easy way to learn more about nature right in your neighborhood.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Celebrate Urban Birds program is a good starting point for both learning to identify common birds across the country and contributing information about your local species to this important citizen science program. If birds aren’t your thing, take time to smell the flowers, then share the flower’s location and life cycle stage with Project BudBurst, a nationwide phenology monitoring program with a robust collection of curriculum and other materials for educators and families. You can also help scientists learn more about seasonal migration by sending information about songbirds, butterflies, and other species you stumble upon at your PokéStop to Journey North.

If you’re out in the evening, count the number of stars you see for GLOBE at Night, a campaign measuring light pollution around the world. You also can use your phone’s camera to record light pollution levels in your area, data the folks at the Dark Sky Meter project would really like to have. And if you’re lucky enough to see fireflies when you’re outdoors, please share that information with our friends over at Firefly Watch.

To be fair, there’s no shortage of opinion about Pokémon Go — what it means for meaningful outdoor experience, the place of technology in the outdoors, whether it just provides another way to disengage from the world around us. In a thoughtful piece in the New York Times, Richard Louv, author of Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-RIch Life, shares his nuanced perspective on how we might consider Pokémon Go’s potential to encourage people to explore nature. He offers us all a simple frame of reference:  

“Here’s a litmus test: how long does it take a person to look up from the screen and actually experience the natural world?”

To me, that’s a helpful and practical lens through which to view any piece of technology or media. Whether it’s watching TV, playing a game, hanging out on social media or, yes, playing Pokémon Go, we all need to look away from the screen from time to time. You might be more likely to do just that if you also turn your Pokémon Go adventure into an opportunity to get to know your actual neighborhood, learn a little about nature, and contribute to science research along the way.


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!

Are We Alone? Citizen Science and the Search for Exoplanets

By Kristin Butler July 20th, 2016 at 9:56 am | Comment

Image Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Image Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser CC BY 4.0

Recently I attended a lecture by award-winning astronomy professor Dr. Andrew Fraknoi, who spoke about the most exciting research happening in astronomy today. He said that while black holes and gravity waves are interesting, the research he finds most intriguing is the search for planets in other solar systems, called exoplanets.

What sets exoplanet research apart, he said, is that it takes us a step closer to answering the fundamental question humans have always wondered … are we alone?

I was excited by his statement because I also recently met a couple of scientists at Mauna Kea’s Keck Observatory in Hawaii who have created a new citizen science project—called Project PANOPTES—focused on the search for exoplanets. Read the rest of this entry »