Posts Tagged librarians

STEM Tuesday –Community Science – Author/Scientist Interview with Jessica Taylor

Welcome to STEM Tuesday: Author Interview, a repeating feature for the last Tuesday of every month. Go Science-Tech-Engineering-Math!

Today we’re interviewing Jessica Taylor, Physical Scientist at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. She serves as the Principal Investigator for the GLOBE Clouds program, an exciting community science program that lets citizens around the world get involved in observing and researching Earth’s environment. GLOBE is the initials for the “Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment” program. By the way, outside of her NASA responsibilities, Jessica is also the author of an upcoming STEM children’s book, “How Do Satellites Stay In Space?”

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Christine Taylor-Butler. Jessica, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed for the STEM Tuesday blog. I had an opportunity to sit in on your presentation about the GLOBE Cloud program and think it would be a fascinating asset for classrooms and libraries. Tell me a bit about yourself. What’s your background?

Jessica Taylor – My background is in Meteorology, Finance and Science Education. I went to Florida State University and got all of my degrees from there.

CTB: How did you get involved in Meteorology?

JT: I grew up outside of Tampa, Florida. Tampa is the lightning capital of the world and I just loved watching thunderstorms and thought they were really cool. A teacher encouraged me to research lightning. What I learned was that scientists are still learning about lightning. I thought it would be fun to have a job where you could learn about something that was of interest to you. That’s basically what science is: learning about things that you don’t fully understand yet. That’s how I decided to pursue Meteorology as a career.

CTB: And now you are working at NASA. Wow! How did that happen?

globeprogramJT: Yes. I wound up at NASA because of the GLOBE program. I was a GLOBE student at Florida State. My professor was the principal investigator for GLOBE cloud. That meant he helped to oversee the science part of the program. I got really engaged in doing science outreach and training teachers. That’s how I decided to pursue science education. I asked questions about how people learn. My professor encouraged me to take classes in education. It was through that journey and my connections with the GLOBE program that helped me get the job at NASA Langley. They were looking for someone who had experience in GLOBE.

CTB: So how long have you been involved in the GLOBE program?

JT: I’ve been with the GLOBE program since 2000 when I was a college student and now I’ve been at NASA for ten years.

CTB: So now NASA has a Citizen Science program. Tell me a bit about the GLOBE Cloud program.

Water cycle

Illustration of water cycle.

JT: GLOBE involves communities from over one hundred countries around the world, collecting and sharing data. That helps scientists better understand the environment. The cloud program is part of that initiative. It helps us analyze and better understand clouds and how they work. Did you know that more than 70 percent of the Earth is covered by clouds? They help our planet control its temperatures. For instance, we know certain clouds block some of the sun’s heat from reaching the Earth’s surface. Other types of clouds are higher in the atmosphere let energy pass through and act like insulation. So we have satellites that collect data on clouds, but we also collect data from citizen observers on the ground. We combine that data and put it online where anyone can access it.

Note for our readers: here’s a link to a short intro and video to help students understand how to get started watching clouds: https://www.globe.gov/web/s-cool/home

CTB: Who is your target audience? Would you say this program is aimed at teachers? Kids? Librarians?

JT: Yes! All of the above! GLOBE is a community of students, teachers, the general public, scientists all working together to understand the environment.

CTB: So even children as young as elementary school can participate in cloud observation or a classroom can work together to upload what they are observing outside for comparison with observations made by scientists? Can they go to the website and get additional information?

Globe app

There’s a GLOBE app too!

JT:  Absolutely. We have online tutorials and lots of different hands-on activities that teachers or educators can do. Librarians, for example, could host a citizen science program for students or adults and engage them at looking at the natural world and recording it. For the clouds program, there are guides to help everyone identify the types of clouds. We even have a GLOBE Observer app that helps you make observations, take photos and even measure the height of trees. Then you can submit the data to NASA. We even help you figure out when satellites are above taking measurements. That way you can submit your observations and we can match them with satellite data taken around the same time. You can find the app here: https://observer.globe.gov/about/get-the-app

cloud science books

NASA has free pamphlets in English and Spanish to help you learn about clouds.

CTB: If you had one hope or goal for what this program can do, what do you want people to get out of it?

cloud template

Photo courtesy of NASA

Cloud template

GLOBE has a guide with a punch-out center to help you make cloud observations.

JT: For people to notice, to recognize the environment and that nature is all around you. Even when you live in an urban environment you are still surrounded by nature, the atmosphere for example. Through regular observations of the environment, I’ve found that people get a much greater appreciation for nature and what is going on in the environment. That’s the whole goal of the program. By getting people to ask questions they become better at knowing and wondering what’s happening.

CTB: If a kid wanted to follow in your footsteps, what kind of courses should they be taking right now?

JT: If you want to go into science or meteorology, don’t shy away from science or math courses. Sometimes they’re hard. Somethings they’re REALLY hard. But that’s okay. You can persist and you’ll be able to do it. I know I struggled myself in some of my math classes later on, but I had a support system of people to turn to. Be open to ask questions of your teachers or peers. That’s important. And take as many classes in math and science as you can. Then learn to ask questions. That’s a skill!

CTB: I often tell students and teachers that life is not about the right answer, but seeing the wrong answer and investigating why and how to fix or improve something.

JT: It’s interesting that asking questions is a skill. Most people don’t know that it gets easier with practice. Participating in the GLOBE program helps you develop skills in observation and asking questions. I work in the Earth Science division. Sometimes people don’t think of Earth as one of the planets NASA is studying. But it’s the most important planet because we live here. NASA has a hugely important role to play in monitoring our home planet, collecting that data, making it publicly available and helping to answer questions about how the Earth is connected and how it is changing. We do it all for the benefit of humanity.

CTB: You’ve also written a children’s book in your free time. So you’re officially a STEM author. What’s the name of the book?

JT: The title is How Do Satellites Stay In Space? It’s being published by Flowerpot Press and comes out in September (2022). In the book, I explain the science behind satellites, what data they collect and how we get them into space.

Satellite Cover

sample satellites

“A friendly, enlightening text for future scientists or anyone curious about space.”Kirkus Reviews

 

 

CTB: Jessica, thank you for giving us a peek into your work with the GLOBE Cloud program. And for your marvelous new book for young scientists. Any last words for our school and library audiences?

JT: Just keep being curious and asking questions. And if you want to learn more about how to get involved, you can go to https://www.globe.gov/

CTB: Note to readers. NASA provides a wealth of information to help students, teachers and libraries learn about science and scientists. All available free of charge. NASA scientists are passionate about helping the community. And now you know about them too! Become a GLOBE Observer/Citizen Scientist! Happy exploring!

 

Jessica Taylor

Courtesy of NASA

Jessica Taylor is a Physical Scientist at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. She leads the Science Directorate’s Science Education team. This team engages teachers, students, and the public in authentic NASA science experiences. Jessica serves as the Principal Investigator for GLOBE Clouds and My NASA Data programs. Jessica loves her work because she helps make Earth science exciting and meaningful to everyone. Jessica received Bachelors degrees in Meteorology and Finance, and a Masters degree inScience Education for Florida State University. Prior to joining NASA, Jessica worked at the College of William and Mary’s STEM Education Alliance and served as Director for School Improvement at the Florida Department of Education. A fierce advocate for encouraging girls towards fields in STEM she is affiliated with the PBS SciGirls program. Jessica now lives in Virginia where her family watches and observes the clouds together.

 

author christine Taylor-butler

Photo by Kecia Stovall

Your host is Christine Taylor-Butler, MIT nerd and author of Bathroom Science, The Oasis, Save the Tigers, and many other nonfiction books for kids. She is also the author of the middle grade sci-fi series The Lost Tribes. Follow @ChristineTB on Twitter and/or @ChristineTaylorButler on Instagram

STEM Tuesday –Community Science – Writing Tips & Resources

The community bit to science is often the ignored, undervalued piece of the scientific process. Collective knowledge needs to be collected and then dispersed among the collective.

Totally confusing, right? 

Well, it is if you think about science as we’ve been generally taught…as a static thing. We’ve been ingrained to think of science as only a rather dull series of steps. How many times have you had to list the steps of the SCIENTIFIC METHOD on a test? I wish I had a dollar for every time I did!

  • Observation
  • Discovery
  • Hypothesis
  • Test
  • Conclude
  • Communicate

Sarah Greenwood, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

 

But science is so much more than just a few memorized steps in a process. What has often been overshadowed in science is the “aliveness” of science. We too often think about science as an individual or small group activity of people isolated in a laboratory, office, or at a site going about their business. We think of science as static. The same misconception holds true for technology, engineering, and mathematics. Lifeless and mundane egghead stuff.

But STEM is so much more. It’s vibrant and alive! It’s all around us. It affects all of us. Science is a tool we use to explain the world around us. Technology, engineering, and mathematics are the tools we use to help science define our world and then manipulate it. And STEM needs you

As much as science affects the community, community affects science. Whether it’s an individual or group participating in a scientific study to collect data points for a research group or science information being presented to a population, the community plays a vital role.

It’s TEAMWORK!

What better way to learn and appreciate science than by participating in science? Shared experience. Now, that’s the value of community science. With many eyes, bodies, and brains at work, the more alive the science is. Community science spreads the load in both directions. It helps cover the necessary ground to turn an unknown into a known by gathering and then distributing the information.

Within the realm of community science, there is a multitude of opportunities covering just about any interest. From open code sourcing software to bird counts, to data analysis, to at-home CRISPR gene-editing, there’s something for everyone. Find your particular jam and give it a shot.

Community Science for the win!

  • Teamwork
  • Spread the load
  • Cover the ground
  • Gather the information

Teamwork makes the dream work!

 

Mount Rainier NPS, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Mike Hays has worked hard from a young age to be a well-rounded individual. A well-rounded, equal opportunity sports enthusiast, that is. If they keep a score, he’ll either watch it, play it, or coach it. A molecular microbiologist by day, middle-grade author, sports coach, and general good citizen by night, he blogs about sports/training-related topics at  www.coachhays.com and writer stuff at  www.mikehaysbooks.comTwo of his science essays, The Science of Jurassic Park and Zombie Microbiology 101, are included in the Putting the Science in Fiction collection from Writer’s Digest Books. He can be found roaming around the Twitter-sphere under the guise of @coachhays64 and Instagram at @mikehays64.

 


The O.O.L.F Files

This month’s version of the O.O.L.F.(Out of Left Field) Files provides resources to get involved in community science projects. 

Looking for a community science project? Check out these resources!

The one and only Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count!

CRISPR at Home – Gene editing for anyone!

The Cornell Ornithology Lab

 


STEM Tuesday –Community Science – In the Classroom

This month’s theme is something that is near and dear to my heart – Community Science (also known as Citizen Science). I’ve participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count (among others) for years. The books I read that inspired this month’s activity suggestions are:

Book Cover for Bat Citizens, showing a bat flying toward the reader.Bat Citizens: Defending the Ninjas of the Night
by Rob Laidlaw

This book is devoted just one type of animal – bats. It highlights many different young scientists and what they are doing to help these amazing creatures.

 

Book cover for Citizen Scientists. Shows a ladybug on a leaf, a red-bellied woodpecker, a hand holding a frog, and a monarch butterfly.Citizen Scientists: Be A Part of Scientific Discovery From Your Own Backyard
by Loree Griffin Burns and Ellen Harasimowicz

This book covers a citizen/community science project for each season – Fall butterflying, Winter birding, Spring frogging, and Summer ladybugging.

 

Turquoise book cover reading "The Outdoor Scientist"The Outdoor Scientist: The Wonder of Observing the Natural World
by Temple Grandin

The Outdoor Scientist is part memoir, part field guide, and contains lots of different activities and mini-bios of inspiring scientists. Opportunities to take part in citizen science projects are sprinkled throughout. They include several projects I hadn’t heard of before.

 

Book cover for 12 Epic Animal Adventures shows monkeys bathing in a hot spring.12 Epic Animal Adventures
by Janet Slingerland

I wrote this book, which means I read it MANY times. Each chapter highlights a different location around the world where people can have an interesting animal experience. The 5th chapter shows visitors participating in a leatherback sea turtle nest count.

 

Find a Project and Join In!

Of course, the first thing I’m inspired to do after reading these books is to participate in a community science project. There are a multitude to choose from.

Most of the better-known community science projects are related to the natural world. But there are lots of other projects out there. Here are a few web sites where you can see or search for a variety of efforts you can participate in.

SciStarter (https://scistarter.org) lets you search for projects that are online or in person near you. You can also search by topic, age range, or goal. This site most likely has links to all the projects listed in the books.

NASA has a page dedicated to citizen science projects. Some of these are literally out of this world (sorry, couldn’t resist). Here’s the link: https://science.nasa.gov/citizenscience

National Geographic has a page where you can look through a list of projects geared for grades 3-12+. The web site is: https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/citizen-science-projects.

Keep an eye open for new opportunities. I recently saw a notice put out by NJ Fish & Wildlife about a turkey brood survey. Each year, they ask for help estimating the number of turkey families throughout NJ. (The link to the survey is on the NJ Fish & Wildlife home page: https://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw – look for the orange “Wild Turkey Alert”.)

I also saw a notice about a firefly survey. We see fireflies in our backyard, so I was really interested to see what that was all about. It’s run by Mass Audubon, but anyone in North America can participate. https://www.massaudubon.org/get-involved/community-science/firefly-watch

Report on a Project

Each of the books presents community science projects in different ways. After participating in a project, report on it.

You could choose to imitate one of these methods or explore different ways of communicating what you did and what you learned. You could practice interview and journalism techniques by reporting on a community scientist’s experiences. You could present your project participating as a photo-essay. You could put together a podcast episode or video segment.

The opportunities for this are endless.

Citizen vs. Community

You might notice that some people refer to community-supported science efforts as citizen science while others call it community science. A few organizations have explained why they’re making the switch, like here: https://debspark.audubon.org/news/why-were-changing-citizen-science-community-science and here: https://www.re-sources.org/2020/10/community-science-citizen-science.

This is a great opportunity to talk about citizenship, community, and the power of words. I recently had a very interesting conversation with my son on these topics. What I find especially interesting is that we each have different ideas about what it means to be a citizen.

Some things to ponder:

What do you think of when you hear citizenship? Community? What are your feelings around these words?

Look the words up in the dictionary. Do they mean what you think they mean?

Does citizen science imply something different than community science?

As citizens of Earth, do we (or should we) have some responsibility to engage in community science?


Janet smiling while holding a butterflyJanet Slingerland is the author of over 20 books for young readers, including 12 Epic Animal Adventures. For more activities related to this book, check out this page on Janet’s web site: http://janetsbooks.com/my-books/animals.