Citizen Science in the Spotlight at Fall AGU Meeting
BOULDER—Thanks to the global reach of the Internet, thousands of people of all ages can now conduct simple scientific experiments and quickly pool their results. This increasingly popular activity, often referred to as citizen science, is a proven way to engage K-12 students as well as interested laypeople.
Citizen scientists can gather data to help illuminate global-scale processes that are difficult to quantify, such as the impact of urban development on nighttime darkness or the changes in plant behavior wrought by global warming.
Education specialists from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) are among the leaders of two major citizen-science projects highlighted at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco, which runs from December 10 to 14. Reporters who are not attending the meeting can call David Hosansky or Rachael Drummond (see news release contacts) for more information.
Project Budburst: Citizen Science for All Seasons
Project BudBurst is a national initiative designed to raise awareness of climate change and create a cadre of informed citizen-scientists. In its spring 2007 pilot project, participants of all ages recorded the timing of the leafing and flowering of some 60 easily identifiable, broadly distributed wild and cultivated plant species found across North America. Organizers plan to make Project BudBurst a year-round event beginning next month.
Along with UCAR, Project Budburst collaborators include the Chicago Botanic Garden; Plant Conservation Alliance; USA-National Phenology Network; and the universities of Arizona; Montana; California, Santa Barbara; Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and Wisconsin- Madison. The project was designed and implemented with funding from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the National Phenology Network (through a grant from the National Science Foundation), and the Plant Conservation Alliance.
Starry Nights: The Great World Wide Star Count
People across the world can take part in a coordinated science study by counting visible stars in certain constellations and reporting their observations online. First held last October with hundreds of participants in 64 countries, The Great World Wide Star Count is expected to become an annual activity. The collected data, including thousands of observations, are available online in a variety of formats for use by students, teachers and scientists across the world to assess how the quality of the night sky is affected by ambient lighting and other factors.
The project exploits the international networking capabilities of Windows to the Universe, a UCAR-based Web site that helps millions of learners understand Earth system processes. Funding for the project comes from the National Science Foundation.
The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.