‘Project Finder’ Lifts Off!

China\'s first space-walkers blasted off last month. This month, we\'ve got our own launch: the Project Finder!Today is launch day for a new wing of the Science Cheerleader blog: the Project Finder!

In a nutshell, the Project Finder is where we’ll point to projects and activities that will give regular folks the chance to participate in scientific research.

That’s right, we’re broadening the Cheerleader’s focus. We’ll continue to cover the important issue of involving the public in discussions and decisions about science policy. But we also want to help you actually do science.

Starting today, we’ll be writing regular profiles and recommendations of the hundreds (maybe thousands) of citizen science programs and projects that are out there waiting for you. Everything from counting fireflies to sorting through stardust, from archeological digs to kitchen counter-top chemistry, from food testing to earthquake monitoring.

We’ll organize it all into categories that you can browse through based on your areas of interest. We’ll also “tag” these postings so that you’ll be able to zero in on activities that line up with certain personal preferences you may have: For instance, can the project be done close to home, is it indoors or outdoors, does it involve travel, is it free or do you have to pay to take part, will you need any special equipment, and will you be working with a professional scientist?

Project X: Coming Soon

We’ll let you in on a secret: This new wing of the Cheerleader blog is really just a little preview of a much larger Web site that’s in the works. That upcoming site, Science For Citizens, will be a one-stop shop where people can learn about, get hooked by, and take part in scientific research and related activities. Rather than re-invent a big wheel that already exists out there, Science For Citizens will aggregate, classify, point to, and help you choose among all that great citizen science material–activity-based Web sites, citizen science blogs, opportunities tied to government and academic projects, and all the rest.

At Science For Citizens, the Project Finder will be a powerful, comprehensive, database-driven matching tool. Think of it as a cross between Craigslist and Match.com for people who want to do science. We think it will be pretty cool.

We’ll have a lot more to say in the coming months about the mission and plans for our larger site. Meanwhile, we invite you to get involved in doing science here using the blog-based version of our Project Finder. Please tell us what you think of this new effort, let us know about your own citizen science pursuits, and help us add to our listings by suggesting a project.

Who’s We?

Lastly, you may be wondering who this “we” is. I’m happy to introduce to you Michael Gold, who has been helping the Science Cheerleader behind the scenes since its debut. Michael will be joining me in writing the citizen science project postings and building out the Project Finder. He is also my partner in dreaming up and launching the big shiny new Science For Citizens site.

Michael has always been in touch with his inner researcher, first as a telescoping-toting teenager, then as an aspiring astronaut, and then as a science journalist at various newspapers and national magazines. Since 1994, he has run a consulting firm (West Gold Editorial) that helps publishers invent, launch, and improve Web sites and magazines. He’s really the perfect co-conspirator.

So let’s all get into our lab coats (break out our butterfly nets, fire up the multi-testers, grab our pick axes…) and have some fun.

  • Hi there!

    Some of these probably count as engineering projects, but I thought I’d include them anyway. I know, you’re shocked, but these are all space-related.

    SETI@Home (http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/)
    SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data.

    Planetary Society projects related to advocacy and education, extrasolar planets, innovative technologies, international missions, Mars exploration, near-Earth objects, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) (http://www.planetary.org/programs/list/)

    Mars Society University Rover Challenge (http://www.marssociety.org/portal/c/urc)
    For the third year, teams of university students will design and build the next generation of Mars rovers. May 28-30, 2009 the teams and their rovers will face off at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah.

    Mars Society Pressurized Rover Challenge(http://www.marssociety.org/portal/c/pressurizedRover)
    A contest was started by the Mars Society in 2000 to design analog pressurized rover concepts that could be tested at the Society’s analog stations. The contest is officially over, but in typical Mars Society fashion, teams have been continuing to work on rover designs since.

    Mars Society Mars Analog Research Stations
    (http://www.marssociety.org/portal/groups/AnalogsTF/index_html)
    This Task Force is responsible for the design and development of our Mars Analog Bases. This task force will work on all phases of project development and provide The Mars Society with periodic detailed reports of progress.

    The Mars Foundation’s Mars Homestead Project (http://marshome.org/)
    The Mars Homestead™ Project, the main project of the Mars Foundation™, is developing a unified plan for building the first habitat on Mars by exploiting local materials. The ultimate goal of the project is to build a growing, permanent settlement beyond the Earth, thus allowing civilization to spread beyond the limits of our small planet.

    Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program (http://www.marsgravity.org/main/)
    The Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program is a ground-breaking undertaking to study the effects of Martian gravity on mammals. We are taking the first step towards human missions to Mars – and beyond. Data from this mission will make a significant contribution to our understanding of fundamental space biology and greatly advance human space exploration. To find out how students are advancing human space exploration, please check out the rest of our website!

    Huntsville Alabama L5 Society (HAL5) Project HALO (http://www.nsschapters.org/al/HAL5/HALO_Index.shtml)
    Working in our spare time, we are currently working on our next hybrid rocket. It is a derivative of the old ARCAS sounding rocket that we dubbed Tube Launch 1 (TL-1). Working part time one night a week. For additional information about Project HALO, meeting location, and tax-deductible donations, please Just drop us an email . We currently have needs for avionics / data instrumentation and tube launcher volunteers.

    NASA Student Launch Initiative (http://education.nasa.gov/edprograms/descriptions/Student_Launch_Initiative.html) and NASA University Student Launch Initiative (http://education.nasa.gov/edprograms/descriptions/University_Student_Launch_Initiative.html)
    The NASA Student Launch Initiative, or SLI, involves middle and high school students in designing, building and testing reusable rockets with associated scientific payloads. This unique hands-on experience allows students to demonstrate proof-of-concept for their designs and gives previously abstract concepts tangibility.

    The NASA University Student Launch Initiative, or USLI, is a competition that challenges university-level students to design, build and fly a reusable rocket with scientific payload to one mile in altitude. The project engages students in scientific research and real-world engineering processes with NASA engineers. Students propose to participate in USLI during the fall. Once selected, teams design their rocket and payload throughout the school year. USLI requires a NASA review of the teams’ preliminary and critical designs. The project also requires flight readiness and safety reviews before the rockets and payloads are approved for launch. After launch, teams complete a final report to include conclusions from their science experiment and the overall flight performance. The Preliminary Design Review, Critical Design Review, and Flight Readiness Review are conducted by panels of scientists and engineers from NASA and from NASA contactors and external partners.

    NASA Faculty Research Programs (http://education.nasa.gov/edprograms/frprograms/index.html)

    NASA Educator Programs (http://education.nasa.gov/edprograms/eduprograms/index.html)

    Not sure what else you need, but this ought to satisfy the space-minded folks in your audience.

    /b

  • Hi there!

    Some of these probably count as engineering projects, but I thought I’d include them anyway. I know, you’re shocked, but these are all space-related.

    SETI@Home (http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/)
    SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data.

    Planetary Society projects related to advocacy and education, extrasolar planets, innovative technologies, international missions, Mars exploration, near-Earth objects, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) (http://www.planetary.org/programs/list/)

    Mars Society University Rover Challenge (http://www.marssociety.org/portal/c/urc)
    For the third year, teams of university students will design and build the next generation of Mars rovers. May 28-30, 2009 the teams and their rovers will face off at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah.

    Mars Society Pressurized Rover Challenge(http://www.marssociety.org/portal/c/pressurizedRover)
    A contest was started by the Mars Society in 2000 to design analog pressurized rover concepts that could be tested at the Society’s analog stations. The contest is officially over, but in typical Mars Society fashion, teams have been continuing to work on rover designs since.

    Mars Society Mars Analog Research Stations
    (http://www.marssociety.org/portal/groups/AnalogsTF/index_html)
    This Task Force is responsible for the design and development of our Mars Analog Bases. This task force will work on all phases of project development and provide The Mars Society with periodic detailed reports of progress.

    The Mars Foundation’s Mars Homestead Project (http://marshome.org/)
    The Mars Homestead™ Project, the main project of the Mars Foundation™, is developing a unified plan for building the first habitat on Mars by exploiting local materials. The ultimate goal of the project is to build a growing, permanent settlement beyond the Earth, thus allowing civilization to spread beyond the limits of our small planet.

    Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program (http://www.marsgravity.org/main/)
    The Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program is a ground-breaking undertaking to study the effects of Martian gravity on mammals. We are taking the first step towards human missions to Mars – and beyond. Data from this mission will make a significant contribution to our understanding of fundamental space biology and greatly advance human space exploration. To find out how students are advancing human space exploration, please check out the rest of our website!

    Huntsville Alabama L5 Society (HAL5) Project HALO (http://www.nsschapters.org/al/HAL5/HALO_Index.shtml)
    Working in our spare time, we are currently working on our next hybrid rocket. It is a derivative of the old ARCAS sounding rocket that we dubbed Tube Launch 1 (TL-1). Working part time one night a week. For additional information about Project HALO, meeting location, and tax-deductible donations, please Just drop us an email . We currently have needs for avionics / data instrumentation and tube launcher volunteers.

    NASA Student Launch Initiative (http://education.nasa.gov/edprograms/descriptions/Student_Launch_Initiative.html) and NASA University Student Launch Initiative (http://education.nasa.gov/edprograms/descriptions/University_Student_Launch_Initiative.html)
    The NASA Student Launch Initiative, or SLI, involves middle and high school students in designing, building and testing reusable rockets with associated scientific payloads. This unique hands-on experience allows students to demonstrate proof-of-concept for their designs and gives previously abstract concepts tangibility.

    The NASA University Student Launch Initiative, or USLI, is a competition that challenges university-level students to design, build and fly a reusable rocket with scientific payload to one mile in altitude. The project engages students in scientific research and real-world engineering processes with NASA engineers. Students propose to participate in USLI during the fall. Once selected, teams design their rocket and payload throughout the school year. USLI requires a NASA review of the teams’ preliminary and critical designs. The project also requires flight readiness and safety reviews before the rockets and payloads are approved for launch. After launch, teams complete a final report to include conclusions from their science experiment and the overall flight performance. The Preliminary Design Review, Critical Design Review, and Flight Readiness Review are conducted by panels of scientists and engineers from NASA and from NASA contactors and external partners.

    NASA Faculty Research Programs (http://education.nasa.gov/edprograms/frprograms/index.html)

    NASA Educator Programs (http://education.nasa.gov/edprograms/eduprograms/index.html)

    Not sure what else you need, but this ought to satisfy the space-minded folks in your audience.

    /b