Archive for April, 2012

Citizen Scientist

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Years ago my daughter asked us to connect our kid’s computer to the SETI network to help search for extraterrestrial life.  For a year or two their old desktop would work for SETI whenever it wasn’t busy in a role-playing fantasy chat room or schoolwork. That was our first venture into the world of “Citizen Scientists”.  Currently I’ve been helping to research light-pollution by reporting an estimate of the number of stars visible in my backyard. Volunteers around the world gather data during February, March and April. Join in this week and report your starlight.  The process is very simple, especially if you have a smartphone or other mobile device, navigate to Globeatnight, set your device to night view and go outside at least one hour after sunset.  Look for Orion and compare the number of stars you see in that area to the charts on the site. Select the closest example and submit. You can even get your students involved and compare notes in class; which students live in the darkest areas of your town? For more information on light pollution, including lesson plans and projects, you can check out the companion site .  There are many more Citizen Scientist opportunities but it can be difficult to sort through them and find the best project to involve your students. SciStarter is a place where scientists can share their projects. This site allows you to filter by project type (i.e. at home, at school, exclusively on-line) or topic (i.e. Astronomy, Birds, Climate).   You can read about various projects but you must register with SciStarter in order to join the project. This website can connect almost any classroom to a Citizen Scientist project, join one today!