|2 June 2009
GSA Release No. 09-28
Director of Education, Communication, & Outreach
Citizen Scientists Seek Solutions
Boulder, CO, USA – Challenges facing planet Earth can seem overwhelming at times, causing many to wonder what one person can contribute to solving the global climate crises, controlling the spread of invasive plant species, or managing severe weather risk.
EarthTrek, a new worldwide program developed by the Geological Society of America and an array of national and international partners, will provide a powerful new tool allowing concerned citizens to assist scientists by collecting data that will provide answers in understanding our planet.
Communities everywhere are being invited to participate in real scientific projects lead by scientists from a wide range of institutions. As individuals, families, clubs or school groups, people can register to trek into various environments and collect data according to protocols set by project lead scientists. Projects will focus on environmental issues in which community involvement—at local, regional, and/or global scales—is key to understanding.
Participants log their data online, adding to a pool of knowledge with other “EarthTrekkers” around the world. Scientists maintain contact with project assistants so that each knows how their contribution is helping to understand the issue, and how the data will be used to make future decisions. Participants are rewarded online—with statistics, certificates, and other incentives.
One EarthTrek project involves visiting and collecting data from graveyards around the globe. Contributors will measure the thickness of marble gravestones, or the distance between marble and lead lettering, so that scientists can create a worldwide map of how gravestones are weathering. This information will provide insights into shifts in world pollution levels and climate change over time. View the project details and an explanatory video at http://goearthtrek.org/Gravestones/Gravestones.html.
A second project now underway has participants identifying and measuring the location of the Garlic Mustard plant in the northern hemisphere, and comparing growth in its native Europe to its invasive spread across North America. Other studies are under development; one involves measuring the size of hail stones.
EarthTrek enrollment is open now, and the first science projects will commence on 1 July 2009.
Learn more at www.goearthtrek.com/.
In addition to reaping the benefits of tapping into a legion of citizen researches for data, EarthTrek aims to raise scientific literacy by involving communities in real science, and provide experiences for younger people that will encourage them to pursue science as a career.
For interviews contact:
Director of Education & Outreach
Geological Society of America
The Geological Society of America, founded in 1888, is a scientific society with more than 22,000 members from academia, government, and industry in more than 95 countries. Through its meetings, publications, and programs, GSA enhances the professional growth of its members and promotes the geosciences in the service of humankind. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, GSA encourages cooperative research among earth, life, planetary, and social scientists, fosters public dialogue on geoscience issues, and supports all levels of earth science education.