In scrambling across the web, I've found a treasure chest of opportunity. Science for citizens is actually the name of the chest. And it was a bit of a treasure hunt that brought me to their front door...more about that later.
Science for Citizens offers regular folks like me (if I'm regular I guess) the chance to participate in science projects from right where we live, doing pretty normal stuff and then sending in what we learn to the principal investigators. Here's their nutshell of a mission
In a nutshell...
If you're a citizen: This is the place to find out about, take part in, and contribute to science through recreational activities and research projects.
How cool is that? And the mission statement is this
ScienceForCitizens.net will bring together the millions of citizen scientists in the world; the thousands of potential projects offered by researchers, organizations, and companies; and the resources, products, and services that enable citizens to pursue and enjoy these activities. We aim to:
- Enable and encourage people to learn about, participate in, and contribute to science through both informal recreational activities and formal research efforts.
- Inspire greater appreciation and promote a better understanding of science and technology among the general public.
- Create a shared space where scientists can talk with citizens interested in working on or learning about their research projects.
- Satisfy the popular urge to tinker, build, and explore by making it simple and fun for people—singles, parents, grandparents, kids—to jump in and get their hands dirty with science.
Who could resist something like that? To be sure, not me!!! So I've nosed around the website and found at least a couple of projects that I'm already working on. The first one is very low key and super easy. Robins. Yep the birds that hop around my yard all day and night...little brown and orange-breasted birds. They are sweet, they love my bird bath in the front yards, although it's very hard to photograph them there.
The idea is for citizens everywhere to document where and when someone sees a robin and then upload the observation report. There's a very cool map that locates your robin observation and you can see where the robins can be found in the United States. The scientists running the project are monitoring climate change and weather changes on where these little guys migrate.
Then on June 21st, I'm getting excited for another super simple, easy to participate in science project. From the Science for Citizens Blog comes "Snap a picture and mesure albedo!!!" By taking a picture of a piece of white paper...yes, a picture of white paper...you could help scientist to take measurements from all over the world on albedo.
But what's albedo, Marsha? Albedo is the solar energy that bounces back back to space after it hits the Earth's surface. Not all of what the sun sends out and that makes it thru the atmosphere all the way to the surface, stays on the surface. Some of it richocets off the earth's surface & back out of the atmosphere.
"For three years Dr. Kathleen Gorski and her students at Wilbraham and Monson Academy near Springfield, MA have been snapping pictures of white paper and using them to measure albedo by comparing the white paper to the surrounding ground surface. " the blog reports. So how much fun would it be to participate in a project that tries to take the most accurate measurement of something as scientific as this? And simple.
If you're like me....well, just remember June 21st between 5-8pm is the time and place. Snap your picture and you're in the loop....a citizen scientist. I first came across this idea of albedo when we were studying climate...and learned the more that the earth absorbs, the hotter we become in theory. So studying things like how much is reflected back, helps to monitor how climate change is or is not happening.
Treasure Hunt So how did I find this jewel? Well, thanks to my newly acquired Twitter skills, I'm beginning to read the Tweets of very interesting people.