Monthly Archives: May 2021

Citizen Science Spotlight – Cicadas!


It would be a shame if we didn't talk about cicadas right now. Everyone is talking about cicada brood x right now. It wouldn't be right not to feature citizen science opportunities about our emerging friends. Brood X is one of the biggest and most widespread, but will not be seen by everyone, but don't worry - there's probably a brood coming your way soon enough. If you live in an area that cicadas don't visit, it's still a chance to educate your community on what's happening in another area of the country that they might not experience firsthand. Cicadas hatch [...]

Citizen Science Spotlight – Cicadas!2021-05-29T21:12:51-06:00

Landers and Landers and Egg Drops, Oh My!


Some of you may have heard in the news recently that NASA named SpaceX as the winner of its recent lunar lander design solicitation for returning astronauts to the surface of the Moon in the next few years. The three finalists consisted of Dynetics, SpaceX and the Blue Origin led National Team. The designs were all very distinct from each other and addressed the challenges of landing astronauts on the surface of the Moon and returning them to lunar orbit in very different ways. You can see the designs here The SpaceX design represents a single-stage lander that will be [...]

Landers and Landers and Egg Drops, Oh My!2021-05-29T20:55:37-06:00

Citizen Science Spotlight – Pollinators!


Pollinating insects are the superstars of the insect world. Everyone wants to save the bees and butterflies. They should, too. Pollinating insects are incredibly important to our livelihood and our environment. More people are starting backyard beehives, or raise and release butterfly kits as the popularity of pollinators grows. Pollen has plant specific shapes and sizes, and a single bee will specialize in a few particular plant species. Approximately one out of three bites of food or beverages we consume is a direct cause of pollination. Without pollinators, we would not only lose a significant amount of food diversity and security, but [...]

Citizen Science Spotlight – Pollinators!2021-05-29T19:15:43-06:00

Artist and Astronaut


As we start the Memorial Day weekend , I was thinking back to an interview I had with the late Alan Bean (March 15, 1932 - May 26, 2018). Alan was a naval officer, aeronautical engineer, test pilot, NASA astronaut and a fine artist. Alan became the fourth person to walk on the Moon on in 1969 with Apollo 12 and spent fifty-nine days in space (at the time a record) on the Skylab 3 mission in 1973. Alan stayed on at NASA training for flying the Space Shuttle, but Alan left NASA shortly before that program became operational. Alan left [...]

Artist and Astronaut2021-05-29T17:34:19-06:00

What Is An Analog Astronaut?


Have you heard of the term "analog astronaut" before?  It's a special term for someone simulating a deep space mission here on Earth. They are people just like you and me, or they might be a specialist in a particular area. Analog astronauts simulate long-duration space missions, in geographically similar areas to the real missions  that are being planned for future Moon and Mars crewed explorations. A crewed mission to Mars for example, would involve astronauts being away from Earth for two-plus years. Mission planners need to know answers to the questions of, what is the optimal number of crew members? [...]

What Is An Analog Astronaut?2021-05-28T19:54:09-06:00

Creating a Perpetual Nature Journal: A Sketchbook With a Twist


I've read about artists, especially botanical artists, that take years to finish a work of art, not because they were just super slow, but because they had to wait.  What did they have to wait for?  Nature. These artists would focus on a particular plant while it was in bloom or its fruit was ripe, or it was at some other particular stage in its yearly cycle that they wanted to portray.  Then, when the blooms faded, the fruit was gone, or the plant had moved on to another stage, that painting and its associated sketches were put away until the [...]

Creating a Perpetual Nature Journal: A Sketchbook With a Twist2021-05-30T09:10:51-06:00

STEAM Engines: Da Vinci Bridge


A few years back, as the Youth Services department was thinking about programs and play opportunities for the library, I attended this talk about the benefits of nature play for children. Scholarly presentations on the benefits of forest schools, nature preschools, and the importance of nature play were in abundance as well as hands-on activities for practical application in a school or library setting. I love it, and I’m totally on board, but the point that stuck out the most for me was the educator who talked about kids’ play being their work - that they would naturally become builders, engineers, [...]

STEAM Engines: Da Vinci Bridge2021-07-20T13:00:34-06:00

Citizen Science Spotlight – A Dragonfly Mystery


Dragonflies are amazing insects, their existence dates back approximately 300 million years, and some even consider good luck. They've also plagued experts for years with their migratory patterns. Thanks to help from citizen scientists, experts were able to not only solve the mystery, but document significant and unprecedented life cycle findings. Insects normally fall into two life cycle categories: nymph or pupa. Essentially, it's how insects spend their awkward teen years. Some insects live as a pupa, like a caterpillar; a wormy like existance before completely rearranging themselves into their adult form. Other species live as nymphs, like dragonflies, which are [...]

Citizen Science Spotlight – A Dragonfly Mystery2021-05-26T21:49:34-06:00

Citizen Science Spotlight – Frogs!


Many people have recently looked to outdoor activities for entertainment. We're in the thick of spring, and nature has started showing signs of life. There is so much to do, and so much to observe outside! Of course, there are plenty of citizen science opportunities to take advantage of as well. Frogs are an indicator species. This means that they can indicate the ecological health of a geographic area. They are very sensitive to environmental changes, so any variance can affect their presence in the ecosystem. They are an integral part of the wetland food chain, being both predator and prey, [...]

Citizen Science Spotlight – Frogs!2021-05-26T21:50:47-06:00

Citizen Science Spotlight – Trees!


There are so many opportunities to help scientist monitor your local environment. Did you know that you can identify and document trees for science? Identifying trees is less intimidating because they don't move around, but there are a lot more variables than you might originally think. You've got the leaf buds, leaf shape, leaf grow patterns, bark, fruit, and more. Tree identification can be done in any season. Citizen scientists can report trees to provide a look into the species diversity and health of nearby wooded areas. Technology pairs and aids citizen science efforts yet again with websites like Arbor Day [...]

Citizen Science Spotlight – Trees!2021-05-23T19:47:07-06:00
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