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Can you design a better way to grow plants in space? Enter this contest.

July 9, 2019 Leave a comment

The International Space Station isn’t the easiest place for agriculture. There’s simply not much room for a garden. Today, plants aboard the spaceship are grown in small cubes. It’s workable, but it doesn’t maximize the available space.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is working with NASA to improve gardening systems for the ISS and has opened the Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest. The contest challenges students in high school and college, as well as professionals, to design and build better systems.

Entries will be judged by a panel of NASA scientists. Five winners will be selected from each level (high school, college, professional). Those winners will go on to have their designs tested to determine the final three winners.

Register now to start getting information and briefings. An initial webinar with information about current gardening systems aboard the ISS will be tomorrow, July 10. The final deadline for finished designs is Feb. 3, 2020.

Data science project at Emory seeks high school and college students

July 7, 2019 Leave a comment

Ymir Vigfusson, assistant professor of computer science at Emory University, describes himself as a computer hacker. More accurately, he goes on the offensive to test the security of computer systems.

Vigfusson is the faculty advisor for the Coke Rewards Code Citizen Science Project, a research project being conducted by Ph.D. students in the Emory math department. The project combines data science, statistics, and machine learning to investigate the security risks in the generation of codes for the Coke Rewards program.

The graduate students are looking for help from students in 9th grade or higher with an interest in computer science, data science, cryptography, or related fields. Programming experience isn’t required. Students will complete a tutorial in the Python programming language, which will be used in the analysis of the codes.

The project is expected to run through September 2019. Work can be done on the Emory campus or remotely, and the hours are completely flexible.

After working on the project, students can use what they’ve learned as the basis for independent science fair projects.

Categories: Enrichment

It’s that time again: Firefly Watch

June 7, 2019 Leave a comment

I’ve been noticing fireflies in the evenings the past week or two. That reminds me, it’s time again for Firefly Watch.

This is a low-commitment, fun way to involve children in citizen science. If you can spend a minimum of 10 minutes a week observing fireflies in your back yard, you can take part in this project that helps Tufts University researchers track firefly populations across North America. It’s easy to do, and the web site lets¬† you compare your data with what observers in other regions are seeing.

Firefly Watch began in 2008 as a program of the Museum of Science in Boston. It’s now part of Mass Audubon. Participation is free.

Categories: Enrichment

Major birdwatching event this Saturday

April 30, 2019 Leave a comment

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology invites anyone interested in birds or citizen science to take part in its annual Global Big Day this Saturday, May 4.

By participating, you’ll be joining tens of thousands of other birders around the world who are making note of birds they see. As with other citizen-science birding events, Global Big Day helps scientists see patterns in bird populations and migrations.

You can be part of Global Big Day by watching for birds for as little as 10 minutes, anytime during the day, at any location — although if you’re looking for a birding hot spot, the Cornell Lab can make suggestions.


Categories: Enrichment

Saturday morning classes in Gwinnett for elementary students

February 19, 2019 Leave a comment

Gwinnett Alliance for Gifted Education is hosting another round of its Saturday Exploration Program next month.

These Saturday morning classes cover a variety of topics, from math and science to history and performing arts. They are primarily for students in grades 2 to 5, though one class (CSI Detectives) is open to 1st grade students as well.

Classes will meet March 2 through March 23 and will be offered at three campuses:

  • Bethesda Elementary School in Lawrenceville
  • Chesney Elementary School in Duluth
  • Partee Elementary School in Snellville

Cost to enroll is $50 for GAGE members, $75 for non-members.

Registration deadline is this Friday, Feb. 22.

Categories: Enrichment

Watch backyard birds for science

February 12, 2019 Leave a comment

I’m always excited to pass along opportunities for kids to take part in real scientific research. If you have birds in your back yard, you can participate in two different citizen science projects this winter and spring.

Each of these projects brings in data from thousands of people to help scientists track bird populations and migrations. This data provides scientists clues into how birds are being affected by climate change and suburban development, among other factors.

First, the Great Backyard Bird Count will start this Friday, Feb. 15, and continue through Monday, Feb. 18. Now in its 22nd year, this worldwide project is a cooperative effort between the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Bird Studies Canada.

To participate, you’ll count the birds you see in your back yard for as little as 15 minutes on any of the four days. You can do more than one day, or watch longer if you want. Then, you submit the data you’ve gathered using an online form.

The second opportunity is Project Feederwatch, which runs longer and is slightly different. This year’s Project Feederwatch kicked off in November and will continue through early April. The project is operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.

When you join Project Feederwatch, you’ll receive a research kit by mail with complete instructions. That can take a few weeks, but you can start counting even before you receive your kit. You’ll count birds no more than once a week and submit your observations online.

Not only can you collect data for either of these projects, but you can also view the data being collected all over the world — a great opportunity to see scientific research in action.

 

Categories: Enrichment

Make plans for Atlanta Science Festival, March 9-23, 2019

February 10, 2019 Leave a comment

The Atlanta Science Festival returns next month, March 9-23, 2019, with a broad slate of activities for kids, teens and adults.

Among this year’s events for kids are:

  • Mathapalooza, a sort of math open-house that challenges kids with math games and puzzles. Saturday, March 9, at the Ebster Recreation Center in Decatur.
  • Astronaut Job Fair, a full-day event for kids ages 9 to 13, to tickle their imagination about the possibilities of working in space. Monday, March 18, at Fernbank Science Center.
  • Pi Day, math-related fun for younger kids. Thursday, March 14, at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta.
  • Family Zoo Safari Camp, a three-hour program that introduces kids ages 4 to 13 (with their parents) to what it’s like to be a zookeeper. Saturday, March 16, at Zoo Atlanta.
  • Eco-Geo Expedition, a scavenger hunt at Arabia Mountain. Sunday, March 17.

Teens (and adults) have plenty to choose from as well: introduction to curling (the Olympic sport)  . . . outer space in science fiction . . . neuro-engineering . . . honeybees . . . and much, much more.

There are literally dozens upon dozens of programs and events to choose from, far more than I can list here.

They’re not all downtown, either. Scanning the events list, I saw locations from Mableton to Marietta.

Many events have limited space and require you to register ahead, so don’t wait until the last minute to take a look and sign up.

As it does each year, the festival culminates in the Exploration Expo, a free event with more than 100 informative and interactive booths, Saturday, March 23 at Piedmont Park.

Categories: Enrichment