The Scout Report -- Volume 26, Number 26

The Scout Report -- Volume 26, Number 26
July 10, 2020
Volume 26, Number 26

General Interest

Theme: Citizen Science

Revisited

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General Interest

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Aggie LIFE
Science

Created in honor of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (celebrated in October), Aggie LIFE provides a fun way for readers to "test your cyber smarts." The game, which can be played on a laptop, desktop computer, or mobile device, mirrors a traditional board game in many ways. Users spin an electronic dial to move spaces on the game board and answer a series of questions along the way. What makes the game unique is that the questions are cybersecurity-themed. For example, questions prompt players to select a secure password and consider how to protect their accounts from hackers. Texas A&M University's Division of Information Technology created the game in 2018, with incentives and prizes for top-scoring students. These prizes were sponsored by Nerdvana, Aggieland Outfitters, and Yogurtland, but readers should note the prize offerings have since closed and were limited to Texas A&M staff and students. Readers can view and play the Division's previous games following the link on the About the Game page. Additional games include Keep Tradition Secure, Football Fever, and an older version of Aggie LIFE (from 2015). [EMB]

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Toasted Cheese: Calendar
Language Arts

Toasted Cheese's writing calendar challenges visitors to write a story using the "five words joint, cracks, unpopular, boiling, [and] looking," or compose a piece "about losing track of the day of the week." Launched in 2001, Toasted Cheese is part literary journal, part writing community. The site offers a variety of resources, from creative inspiration to writing contests. The site also curates a monthly writing prompt calendar, which provides daily inspiration to hone writing skills or ease writer's block. Some prompts invite readers to create literature about a certain topic or event, while others challenge visitors to use specific words or phrases. The calendar also keeps track of other Toasted Cheese events such as their online writing community get-togethers and journal submission deadlines. A new calendar is released each month and readers can access past writing prompts by scrolling to the bottom of the Calendar page and changing the month selection, or via the Daily Writing Prompts tab on the Exercises page. The Calendar page also has a Selection Box section (accessible under the Calendar dropdown) where users can suggest an idea for an upcoming prompt. [EMB]

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Kids Invent Stuff
Science

Launched in 2015, the YouTube channel Kids Invent Stuff offers kids "the chance to get their invention ideas built by real engineers." Each month, the Kids Invent Stuff team provides a new challenge prompt and welcomes kids to submit a related idea. These challenges vary; for example, July's challenge is "Water Crossing Inventions." Using the Submit Your Invention form on the website, kids provide background information about their idea, as well as any visual aids. Generally, one idea is chosen from these submissions per month. When an idea is selected the Kids Invent Stuff team of engineers bring the invention to life and record it on their YouTube channel (linked on the site via the "Watch Now" box). Recent videos showcase a walk-through shower (see the May 30, 2020 video) and an electric dog car (see the March 28, 2020 video). In the five years that the channel has been active it has garnered a significant following (more than 750,000 views and a feature on BBC News Online). Kids Invent Stuff is sponsored by a variety of organizations, including Autodesk and The Institution of Engineering and Technology. The complete list of sponsors is available on the site. [EMB]

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tea&bannock
Arts

Co-created by Tenille K. Campbell and Joi T. Arcand, tea&bannock is a collective blog featuring work by a group of Indigenous women photographers, currently nine members, who live all across Canada. Some of the most recent photo essays discuss the impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous people. For example, "Papa's Girl," posted May 18, 2020 by Tenille Campbell, examines the relationship between her daughter and her father and other family members, in light of their being separated due to the pandemic. Another example is Leslee Merasty's May 12,2020 post "the slow down" about returning with her daughter to her family home in Edmonton when unable to find work or daycare during the pandemic. There are also posts by guest bloggers, like a recent entry titled "Medicine and Magic" by Tiffany Wolfe, a Navajo/Ogalala Lakota artist. In addition to viewing posts by recency on the Home page, readers can scroll to the bottom of the page to filter posts by category or archived month (from 2016 to present). [DS]

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My Favorite Theorem
Mathematics

Those curious about the connection between Falting's theorem and New York City bagels (see Episode 53) may enjoy My Favorite Theorem. Hosted by math enthusiasts Keith Knudson and Evelyn Lamb, the podcast focuses on "sharing our guests' favorite mathematical results." While the show partly takes a traditional approach, asking guests to describe their favorite theorem, the podcast also mixes it up. Noting that "the best things in life come in pairs," the hosts "find out what our guest thinks pairs best with their theorem." For example, in Episode 54, Professor Steve Strogatz discusses connections he sees between Cubism paintings and Cauchy's theorem. Discover other unique pairs by listening to the more than 50 episodes released since 2017. These episodes, each around 30 minutes in length, can be found at the link above or on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and other popular streaming platforms. Readers looking for additional content can follow My Favorite Theorem on Twitter (@myfavethm) or browse the rest of Knudson's website (including a blog and resources from his presentations). Readers can find some of Lamb's math writing by reading her Roots of Unity blog in Scientific American or checking out her website at www.evelynjlamb.com. [EMB]

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Theme: Citizen Science

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Bird Count India
Science

Long-time readers may remember eBird, the birding database featured in the 10-07-2005 Scout Report. Bird Count India manages eBird-India, an extension of the eBird project focused on "the needs of birders in India." Bird Count India also provides several platforms and sub-projects "for people interested in birds at any level, [making it] possible for you to have fun birding while at the same time pooling your efforts with those of thousands of others so that the combined information is available for research and conservation." In addition to the eBird India platform, readers will find birding guides (under the Birding dropdown menu), activities and workshops (under the Events dropdown menu), bird atlases (under the Projects tab), and much more. Experienced birders may enjoy the Challenges page, where they can sign up for monthly or yearly competitions. The Species and Analysis pages lead to relevant articles, and upcoming events are highlighted on the right-hand panel of the site. Bird Count India is supported by the Duleep Matthai Nature Conservation Trust, Nature Conservation Foundation, and Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies. [EMB]

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Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit
Science

Created by a collaboration between more than two dozen agencies such as the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit is an invaluable source of information for aspiring or continuing citizen scientists. This central information hub offers plenty of wisdom, "including success stories and some of the challenges that developers faced in designing and carrying out citizen science and crowdsourcing projects." The toolkit also provides articles, tips, examples, and more, divided into three main categories: Getting Started, Case Study Overview, and Resource Library. Those new to citizen science may want to begin on the Getting Started page. Here, readers will learn about the five basic steps to design a successful citizen science project. From there, readers can build upon their knowledge with many of the other in-depth resources. There is also a Law and Policy section (accessible via the Toolkit dropdown menu) that contains many important considerations. The toolkit was released in 2015, but readers will find more recent resources on other parts of the site. For example, CitizenScience.gov's Blog (found under the tab in the top-right corner) contains posts as recent as July 30, 2019. [EMB]

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Marine Debris Tracker
Science

The Marine Debris Tracker is "an open-data citizen science tool ... fight[ing] plastic and other types of pollution." Using technology and human power, the project seeks to remedy pollution by tracking inland and marine debris. So far, thousands of citizen scientists have contributed, registering over 2 million debris pieces worldwide. Interested readers are welcome to join in the work. Readers will want to begin on the How Do I Start Tracking? page, where they can watch a brief tutorial video, download the "Guide to Getting Started" (which includes useful text and graphics), and browse the FAQ section. The app is currently available in multiple languages and is designed for iPhone and Android use. Those without access to these devices can still follow the project by exploring the data (on the View and Get Data page) or browsing photos (on the Tracker Photos page). The project is a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Division and the University of Georgia's Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative and receives support from a variety of organizations such as 11th Hour Racing. [EMB]

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White Hats and Lab Coats
Science

From the Biohacking Village comes White Hats and Lab Coats, a podcast with a little bit of everything, from citizen science to biomedical technology. The podcast is co-hosted by Beau Woods and Nina Alli. Woods is the leader of Biohacking Village: Device Lab and a Cyber Safety Innovation Fellow with the Atlantic Council, and Alli is the Executive Director of the Biohacking Village at DEF CON. Each episode also features a guest, and together the group spends about half an hour exploring aspects of DIYBio, cybersecurity research, healthcare, and citizen science. Recent guests include Najla Lindsay (a digital forensics in healthcare professional) and Seth Carmody (a chemist turned cybersecurity specialist). Though the show is new to the podcast scene (having launched in March 2020), it already has more than a dozen episodes. Listeners can find these episodes at the link above as well as on Apple Podcasts, Google, Stitcher, or Spotify. More information about the podcast is also available on Biohacking Village's Twitter account (@dc_bhv). [EMB]

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Guide to Citizen Science
Science

Noting "our current understanding of UK wildlife and the wider environment is due in large part to the dedication and expertise of the naturalist community," this "Guide to Citizen Science" serves as a beginner's manual for furthering citizen science projects. The guide is comprehensive (nearly 40 pages in length), yet well organized and easy to read with bullet points, figures, flowcharts, and examples. After a brief glossary with definitions of key terms, the resource divides into phases: Before You Start, First Steps, Development Phase, Live Phase, and Analysis and Reporting Phase. At the end of the guide readers will find additional Resources and Links, including sub-sections on Citizen Science Web Portals and Select Citizen Science Projects for readers interested in participating. Scientists from the Biological Records Centre and the Natural History Museum Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity wrote the guide, and the UK Environmental Observation Framework provided funding. Readers can learn more about the authors and partners on the concluding pages. [EMB]

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Revisited

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The Crowd & the Cloud
Science

Since its feature in the 09-15-2017 Scout Report the episodes from The Crowd & the Cloud, a four-part series exploring the triumphs and challenges of citizen science, have continued to re-air on various platforms (including PBS). At the link above, readers will find these videos, plus additional citizen science resources.

Supported by the National Science Foundation, the Crowd & the Cloud is a series of television programs, launched in April 2017, that highlight a variety of citizen science projects around the world. These documentary clips are available on the Watch the Episodes page. Scrolling to the bottom of the page, readers will find a Related Projects section with citizen science games and resources. For educators and librarians, this project also offers a variety of resources that will appeal to those who want to incorporate citizen science into their classroom, library, or community center. For example, under the Join a Project tab visitors will find the SciStarter Project Finder, which allows one to search for citizen science projects of interests by selecting the filters of Topics (e.g. Agriculture, Computers & Technology, Nature & Outdoors, Social Science), Area (e.g. Can Be Done Outdoors, Use a Smartphone or Tablet App), Activity (e.g. At Home, At School, on a Hike), and Age Group (ranging form Elementary School to Seniors). Visitors can also search for projects by keyword or location. In addition, visitors may want to check out the CitSci Calendar, which includes a timeline of the history of citizen science.

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