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Recently in the Citizen Science Category

Recent Post Describes How Meteor Storm Started Citizen Science

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How do the cosmos and citizen science relate? Citizen scientists have been playing important roles in astronomy for a long time, discovering objects in the night sky, mapping our cosmos, helping to analyze large amounts of data. But, a recent post in the National Geographic Star Struck blog described how an 1833 meteor storm started citizen science. While our Extension video draws a different origin point for citizen science in America, this meteor story does describe an early scientist recognition of the power of 'crowdsourcing' scientific observation and analysis. We citizen scientists can accomplish some amazing feats of science when working in coordination.

Visit our website to learn more about University of Minnesota Extension citizen science programs.

Become a leader in reducing the invasive species in your community! We are calling all volunteers from the Minnesota Master Naturalist, Master Gardener, Forest Pest First Detector and other programs. As you know, invasive species such as buckthorn, garlic mustard and wild parsnip pose serious threats to Minnesota's natural resources, ecosystems, and economy. We want YOU to join in a statewide effort to tackle the growing problem of invasive species.

Sign up for a one-day workshop (qualifies as Advanced Training or continuing education hours) from 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. on Saturday, September 13, 2014 in Spicer, MN. You will learn the impact of invasive species in Minnesota and be trained to identify and remove/treat selected problem species and provide follow-up management and monitoring. We will help you plan a local project that will mobilize organizations and clubs you belong to so you can host local invasive plant removal projects as part of an annual statewide "Invasive Blitz" event. You may even wish to adopt a local natural area (park, woodlot, camp, retreat center, etc.) you can regularly monitor and provide stewardship for into the future.

Visit the Minnesota Master Naturalist website to learn more about the Invasive Blitz workshop in Spicer MN.

WIRED columnist, David Lang explored the "weird, wild world of citizen science" in a recent post on the site. In this article, Lang describes examples of citizen science projects that are helping to pinpoint the cause of a starfish disease, and rescue a vintage spacecraft for NASA. He points provocatively toward convergence of "maker" and "hobbyist" movements with scientists, who increasingly need access to larger datasets and human resources/expertise to address critical research questions. This combination, Lang suggests, will lead to a "weird, feral form of science." In his words: "How these trends ultimately play out will be our decision. The potential is for both faster and slower science. It won't work for every field of study. But for any research that also hopes to inform and educate humans to make better decisions, especially about our planet's ecology, it's a substantial improvement."

Just what is citizen science? Watch a brief video on the University of Minnesota Extension YouTube site to find out. American citizens have been contributing for centuries toward important scientific discoveries. Citizen science projects contribute toward our understanding of everything from galaxies to animals to sub-atomic particles.

Want to get involved in citizen science? The University of Minnesota Extension citizen science website is a great place to get started. The Minnesota Master Naturalist program helps to connect people who are interested in natural history with high quality volunteer opportunities like citizen science. The Monarch Larva Monitoring Program involves volunteers from across the United States and Canada in monarch research. Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inqury through Citizen Science uses citizen science as a springboard for engaging youth in the full process of authentic research. We look forward to welcoming you into these programs to dig into this "weird, wild world of citizen science".

New Videos Explore Youth Research Based on Citizen Science

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In three new videos on the University of Minnesota Extension You Tube Channel, young researchers describe their experiences studying birds and Monarch caterpillars last summer. Sparked through their involvement in the NSF-funded Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science project, these youth worked with trained adult leaders and University of Minnesota science faculty to design and carry-out their own investigations.

In the first video, a youth discussed how she investigated the question "How does a constant daily temperature versus fluctuating (one day 90 degrees, one day 63 degrees) temperature affect the growth of a cecropia moth caterpillar?"

In a second video, youth describe how they designed a study to explore the question "Are more birds spending most of their time in the lagoon, sky, ground, or trees and poles?"

In the third video, youth discuss how they investigated the question "Are more birds spending most of their time in the lagoon, sky, ground, or trees and poles?"

The NSF-funded Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science project seeks to expand the reach of Citizen Science for youth. Typically, citizen science--or public involvement science--involves the general public in collecting data that can be analyzed and interpreted by professional scientists. Illustrated in the new video, this project carries citizen science a step further, enabling youth to design, carry out, and even report on their own research questions under the mentorship of science advisors at the University of Minnesota. By giving young researchers the freedom and responsibility to design their own projects, they gain a greater understanding and appreciation for science, and will grow to see themselves as scientists.

CLICK to learn more about Driven to Discover: Enabling Antuentic Inquiry through Citizen Science.

CLICK to watch other Citizen Science videos on the University of Minnesota Extension YouTube Channel.

Barbara JS.jpgCongratulations to Barbara Jacobs-Smith, an adult leader for the NSF-funded Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science project. She has been granted a sabbatical from her teaching position to volunteer at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology with their Bird Sleuth curriculum. Her work will support the Cornell Lab staff through creating lessons and activities that help youth learn diversity and science process.

Ms. Jacobs-Smith has been an Extension Adult Leader for three years with Driven to Discover, collecting data and conducting science investigations with her 4th, 5th, and 6th grade Breck Birders group. Asked how her participation in Driven to Discover helped get her to the Lab, Barbara explained, "It is through my association with D2D that I was able to make the connections that allowed me to successfully contact The Cornell Lab of Ornithology." Drs. Robert Blair and Karen Oberhauser, University of Minnesota Extension specialists in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education, introduced Jacobs-Smith to staff at the Cornell Lab, and provided positive recommendations of her work. The Driven to Discover Annual Research Summit also provided Cornell staff the opportunity to see Barbara's leadership in-action. In her words, "Weeks later, my D2D research team, the Breck Birders, were presenting their project at the Ecology Fair at the University of MN. A man I did not know came up to me and asked if I was the adult leader of the Breck Birders. He introduced himself. He was Rick Bonney, Director, Program Development and Evaluation at the Cornell Lab. Bonney is credited with coining the term 'citizen science' in the 1990s and launched the eBird website in 2002. He was very impressed with the Breck Birders' project and with their presentation, which he witnessed. He told me he was aware of the invitation Jennifer Fee had extended to me to work at the Lab. He went on to say that he would very much like me to come to the Lab to work and learn. He thought that there was a lot I could do to support the work they are doing there."

Barbara credits her participation in Driven to Discover and the Minnesota Master Naturalist program as giving her the tools to help students practice authentic science. Master Naturalist provided her with specific information and a deeper understanding of the biomes in which she teaches. Driven to Discover provided her with skills and activities to engage her students in science investigation. Jacobs-Smith said, "The D2D program gave me the tools to allow my students to behave as professional scientists do. I believe it has helped move my instruction from merely telling students about science to helping them become scientists. The information is very important, but it's what children do with that information that makes the difference. It is the difference between knowing and understanding, the difference between seeing themselves as passive recipients of information or as scientists themselves."

We wish Barbara Jacobs-Smith all the best during her 2014-15 opportunity to work at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and look forward to her continued participation in University of Minnesota Extension programming. Visit the program site to learn more about Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science.

Competition for Conservation?

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According to a recent post in the Cornell Chronicle, Janis Dickinson, professor of natural resources and director of citizen science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, believes that healthy competition among citizen science volunteers may be a good thing for conservation. She is managing the new YardMap.org, a project that enables participants to add details about a specific site (e.g., their yard) to Google Maps and link to bird monitoring data in eBird.org. Users can also commit to adopting habitat conservation actions, such as adding feeders or keeping cats away from the birds. YardMap aims to help participants learn about, actually enact, and showcase more bird friendly habitat. In the words of Dickenson, "If everybody reduced their lawn size, had a greater diversity of structure and vegetation types, had berry-producing plants, and if this were done over a larger area of land, say an entire town, this could create one large patch of relatively high-quality habitat."

Sign up or learn more at the YardMap.org site. This is a great service opportunity for Minnesota Master Naturalist volunteers or Driven to Discover: Enabling Youth Inquiry through Citizen Science adult leaders. Learn more about these programs at the University of Minnesota Extension Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education website.

Minnesotans with backyard ice rinks may want to join a Canadian citizen science study - RinkWatch - aiming to gather climate data. According to an article in the Ottawa Citizen, a team of scientists, lead by Robert McLeman at Wilfrid Laurier University are working with over 1000 volunteers to gather observations about skating conditions on backyard rinks across Canada, the United States and other countries. They aim to pool data across sites to track changes in weather over the winter season. RinkWatch volunteers can also share tips for making their rinks, and photos of their sites.

RinkWatch is a great example of how science can become a productive part of our existing traditions and outdoor activities.

Visit the RinkWatch site to learn more about the program, explore participant observations, or sign-on.

Wilson Center Forum Presents New Visions for Citizen Science

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Public participation in scientific research, or citizen science is an important element of many University of Minnesota Extension Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education programs. In the NSF-funded Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science, staff support reseach teams of youth and adult leaders in using citizen science to spark their own scientific investigations. Staff are cooperating with Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers to monitor seasonal changes for a few key indicators of localized climate change. The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) is a citizen science project involving volunteers from across the United States and Canada in monarch research. Over the years, MLMP citizen scientists have monitored and collected tens of thousands of Monarch caterpillars. Data from their observations have helped Specialist, Karen Oberhauser, learn about Monarch parasites.

Last week, the Wilson Center hosted a forum on new visions for Citizen Science. In the words of U.S. EPA's Deputy Administrator, Bob Perciasepe, "Citizen science isn't a fresh idea. It's tried and proven, and we've been at it for generations. But times have changed." Mobile technology, GPS, cheaper sensors, and other technologies may be able to amplify the impact of our next generation of Citizen Scientists. Visit the Wilson Center website to view a recording of the forum. You can also download the companion New Visions in Citizen Science report.

In a new video on the University of Minnesota Extension You Tube Channel a young researcher, Tiana Connelly, describes her experience researching Monarch caterpillars last summer. Sparked through her involvement in the NSF-funded Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science project, Tiana worked with University of Minnesota Graduate Assistant, Kelly Nail, to study how caterpillars respond to tiny temperature variations on a single milkweed plant. In the future, they hope to publish results of their research project.

The NSF-funded Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science project seeks to expand the reach of Citizen Science for youth. Typically, citizen science--or public involvement science--involves the general public in collecting data that can be analyzed and interpreted by professional scientists. Illustrated in the new video, this project carries citizen science a step further, enabling youth to design, carry out, and even report on their own research questions under the mentorship of science advisors at the University of Minnesota. By giving young researchers the freedom and responsibility to design their own projects, they gain a greater understanding and appreciation for science, and will grow to see themselves as scientists.

CLICK to learn more about Driven to Discover: Enabling Antuentic Inquiry through Citizen Science.

CLICK to watch other Citizen Science videos on the University of Minnesota Extension YouTube Channel.

Just what is Citizen Science? Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education (FWCE) staff spend a lot of time training and supporting citizen volunteers and youth for active contributions to citizen science projects. But we find that our participants aren't always sure what these projects entail, or how these are connected to broader scientific study. In a new video on the University of Minnesota Extension YouTube Channel, we define what is Citizen Science, and how citizen scientific contributions are valuable for important conservation research projects. The short video focuses on the stories of Extension Specialists, Karen Oberhauser and Robert Blair. It is appropriate for youth and adult audiences.

Through our NSF-funded Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry Through Citizen Science project, FWCE staff are also exploring citizen science as a learning environment for youth scientific inquiry. In part, staff are conducting research to identify key factors that provoke authentic inquiry by youth/adult research teams using citizen science experiences. A handout Research Summary reports preliminary results of this research. In summary, we currently conceive citizen science as a rich environment for sparking science inquiry. The physical setting for the program, research team meeting structure and activities, and team characteristics are the roots from which authenticity and engagement grow into inquiry.

Visit the University of Minnesota Extension website to learn more about Citizen Science. Add a comment to this post to suggest additional information or resources to add to the site.

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