Why talk about science to non-scientists? Why not just let scientists stay cloistered in their labs with other scientists, looking through microscopes and talking about scientific stuff? They don’t need any help from non-scientists. Or do they?
At Science Online 2013, I was fortunate to kick February off with an amazing group of individuals who will happily give you a million reasons that we should all be talking about science. This group of students, researchers, writers, artists, librarians and communicators are collectively working to discover better ways to engage the public in the wonder of science without simply lecturing us. They want to excite and challenge us, without overestimating our knowledge or underestimating our intelligence.
After all, a little knowledge about science can go a long way in helping us make well-informed decisions about everything from personal health to the environment. And we all need to dream of stars.
One group of scientists in particular caught my attention, and they were looking for help with real research projects that may someday be published in scientific journals and make a difference in the world.
This type of research is known as Citizen Science, and to be involved, you don’t need a degree or any scientific background at all. It’s not expensive. You might just need a plastic bag or a pair of binoculars. Depending on your interest, you can do anything from taking a video of someone playing with your dog, collecting ants, recording severe weather in your own back yard, to swabbing for microbes in your home, school or sports stadium. You can even keep track of when your neighborhood outdoor hockey rink freezes and thaws or look for Camel Crickets in your basement.
Scistarter.com is a great starting point to help you find a project that fits your interests.
Who knows? You might discover a new ant species, learn something new, or even participate in a study that helps make the world a better place.
Does soap really get rid of germs? On Wed. morning, Feb.27th, I’ll stop by Kare11 Sunrise around 6:20 to demonstrate a cool hand-washing experiment and talk about Citizen Science, which lets you help real scientists with their research by collecting data on everything from microbes to dog behavior.
Here’s how to make petri plates for the hand-washing experiment, where you touch labeled sections of the plates with your fingertips before washing, after washing with water alone, and after scrubbing with soap. You can also use the plates to grow microbes from around your house or school!
Click here for a link to the written recipe and more science. I made this video for both the free and premium version of KidScience app, where it will appear on next week’s update, along with the recipe. I’ll post details for the hand-washing experiment early next week.