The Poetry of Science at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site

By Russ Campbell October 26th, 2016 at 10:28 pm | Comment

Carl Sandburg Home National Historical Site stretches over 246 rolling acres in Flat Rock, N.C. The writer and poet Sandburg moved to the property in 1945 for the solitude the natural landscape provides. Today, it is a place where nature, science, and creativity intertwine.

By measuring tree canopy cover, visitors to the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site citizen science trail contribute to research showing how differences in sunlight affect the ecosystem. Photo Credit: Russ Campbell

By measuring tree canopy cover, visitors to the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site citizen science trail contribute to research showing how differences in sunlight affect the ecosystem. Photo Credit: Russ Campbell

Five miles of trails meander throughout the site – some leisurely strolls on walking paths, others intense climbs that summit onto a bucolic overlooks. One trail in particular offers a new and innovative experience that marries the beauty of the setting with the investigative opportunity that inherently exists in nature. The first Kids in Parks Citizen Science TRACK Trail, a program of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, was designed to create and interactive trail experience for children and the adults with them to stop, observe, and reflect on their surroundings.

A canopy of hemlock, maple, and pine shade the mile-long loop that encircles a lake. The citizen science trail guides participants through a series of interactive stations where visitors can measure the age of a tree by counting the rings, test the quality of the water, and observe the weather by reading a thermometer and making observations. Another station provides a bench for visitors to look out across the lake and simply record whatever nature they see. There’s also a place to record your own poem–a nod to Sandburg and the recognition of this site as a tribute to American literature and a reminder of the inexorable link between nature, science, and art.

The view from Little Glassy Mountain, part of the citizen science trail at Carl Sandburg National Historic Site. Credit: Russ Campbell

The view from Little Glassy Mountain, part of the citizen science trail at Carl Sandburg National Historic Site. Photo Credit: Russ Campbell

Administrators at Kids in Parks collect the data, explains director Jason Urroz. “It’s a great way to get kids to collect data and be involved in the science learning process,” he says.

As Carl Sandburg wrote, “Nothing happens unless first we dream.” Park staff themselves had a dream to create a new citizen science trail that would engage visitors in all aspects of what the park has to offer. Supported by the National Park Foundation, they turned this dream into an opportunity to discover the rich and unique environment of the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.


Russ Campbell heads communication at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, a private biomedical foundation located in Research Triangle Park, N.C. He is a volunteer with the Turtle Rescue Team, based out of the North Carolina State University Veterinary School. He is the cofounder of the Science Communicators of North Carolina (SCONC).

Join SciStarter and the Science Cheerleaders at the Bay Area Science Festival!

By Catherine Hoffman October 19th, 2016 at 12:32 pm | Comment


November 5th, 2016


AT&T Park


Join SciStarter at the Bay Area Science Festival this November! This free festival will be packed with science enthusiasts. Come to explore hundreds of hands-on activities, opportunities to meet local scientists and engineers, plus fun and educational entertainment.

Find SciStarter to learn about citizen science projects you can do in the Bay Area and beyond. We’ll be getting you set to look for ZomBees, monitor migrating butterflies, band local birds, and even learn about finding exoplanets!

From 10am-12pm, we will be joined by Kayla and Anelisse from the 49ers Gold Rush squad who are also STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals. Come learn how they found a love for science and turned it into a career.


I have obtained my Bachelors in Psychology, Masters in Sport Psychology and am currently in graduate school working toward my Doctorate (PsyD) in Clinical Psychology. I intend to utilize my degrees and pursue a career as a sport psychologist specifically working with dancers and football players. Sport psychology is an interdisciplinary science that draws upon various fields such as, biomechanics, physiology, kinesiology and psychology. Sport psychology ultimately focuses on how psychological factors influences the way an individual performs. The role of a sport psychologist is to clinically diagnose and treat a client through therapeutic tools and performance enhancement techniques.”




anelissec01b9620 Anelisse

“In high school, I loved environmental science and created a study to manage water quality in my hometown. I was also the first female student to exhaust our advanced math and science program! In college, I studied mechanical engineering, which relies on physics for analysis!  I got to take principles I learned from physics and chemistry and apply them one step further to study (and also create!) objects that exist in the real world. I’m now working at a software company, which focuses on computer science.”






Enter EPA’s Smart City Air Challenge!

By Guest October 19th, 2016 at 10:30 am | Comment


What if you had access to air quality data — minute-by- minute — from hundreds of locations in your community at the same time? How would you manage that data– and how would you share it with your local residents? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is offering two communities $40,000 each to help figure that out.

Currently, environmental agencies evaluate air quality using stationary monitors that measure pollutants in a few locations selected to be representative of air quality in each metropolitan area. But new technology is rapidly developing that make the devices for measuring air quality less expensive – and portable. While they’re not yet suitable for regulatory use, these new sensors offer communities several benefits. People can use these sensors –which generally cost less than $2,000 — to easily collect highly localized, real-time data. In addition, low-cost sensors can become a part of the “Internet of Things” (IoT), streaming data to the Internet so people can access it in real time. With this data, communities can harness analytical tools to understand local air pollution levels and their environment.

A factory smokestack in New Jersey emits pollutants into the atmosphere. Photo Credit: UN Photo/John Isaac (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A factory smokestack in New Jersey emits pollutants into the atmosphere.
Photo Credit: UN Photo/John Isaac (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Smart City Air Challenge invites communities to submit strategies that describe how they will deploy the sensors and manage the data. In order to qualify, a local government agency will need to partner with other parties that provide services, such as sensor manufacturers, data management agencies, environmental organizations, and citizen groups. Communities can range from neighborhoods to counties and tribes. Applications will have to describe the level of accuracy and precision of the sensors and how they will ensure these attributes.

Join the challenge today and use the power of big data and citizen science to understand local environmental conditions. The challenge launched on August 30 and applicants have until October 28 to submit their strategies. Winners will be announced in the fall of 2016. EPA will evaluate the strategies and award prizes of up to $40,000 each to two communities. After a year, EPA will evaluate the accomplishments and collaboration of the two communities and award up to an additional $10,000 to each community. To learn more, visit the Smart City Air Challenge website and submit applications by October 28.

GAO cites ECAST: “Practices to Engage Citizens and Effectively Implement Federal Initiatives”

By Darlene Cavalier October 14th, 2016 at 6:57 pm | Comment


The U.S. Government Accountability Office (U.S. GAO) is the investigative arm of Congress charged with examining matters relating to the receipt and payment of public funds.

Today, the GAO published a new report to advise how the federal government can better engage citizens. Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) is cited as one of seven effective practices.

ECAST was cofounded by the following institutional partners: Arizona State University, Loka Institute, Museum of Science, Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, SciStarter and Science Cheerleader.

Federal agencies are using “open innovation” tools to leverage the knowledge and skills of people outside government. Using dedicated websites and in-person outreach, agencies have worked with the public to rebuild communities after Hurricane Sandy, improve methods to find asteroids that could threaten the Earth, and reduce the amount of time required for highway construction projects.

We identified 7 practices that agencies can use to effectively engage the public when using open innovation tools. Example of Open Innovation Tools: NASA’s Asteroid Initiative In-Person Forum and Online Platform

Read full report.

Whenever, wherever, you and citizen science are meant to be together

By Eva Lewandowski October 13th, 2016 at 10:36 pm | Comment


If you can see this, you can advance scientific research right now!
Below, our editors highlight five, digital citizen science projects you can do online now!  Find more with the Scistarter Project Finder.
The SciStarter Team

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