Be an Earth Monitor!
Your classroom or group can get involved in a research
project collecting data for real Earth scientists.
(Earth Science Week 2011)
Sun Shadows Project
(Earth Science Week 2009)
Lunar Outpost Design Challenge
(Earth Science Week 2006)
(Earth Science Week 2005)
Soil Moisture Sampling Project
(Earth Science Week 2004)
(Students' Cloud Observations On-Line)
S'COOL is a real-time, collaborative science experiment that elementary through secondary students conduct with NASA scientists. Participants make ground truth observations of clouds for comparison with satellite data. These observations help NASA scientists validate the measurements from NASA's CERES satellite instrument (Clouds and Earth's Radiant Energy System). The S'COOL Web site includes several educational resources, including tutorials, cloud ID charts and ideas for projects. The site also includes information on Roving Cloud Observations for S'COOL, a program for citizen scientists.
Sun Shadows Project
Help students at James Monroe Middle School in Albuquerque, NM, along with USGS, Antarctic Geologic Drilling (ANDRILL), and Raytheon Polar Services scientists collect data for the Sun Shadows Project! The study, started in October 2007 by the students at James Monroe, has become a national and international study with data coming in from the United States, Egypt, China, Russia, Norway, and both of Earth’s poles. However the study needs your help! The more data points the team collects, the better their results.
The concept of the project is easy. Are shadows longer during the winter, when the sun is at a lower angle to the Earth, or is it longer in summer when the opposite is true? Recent data has suggested that shadows are longer in the winter, but the study is ongoing to see if the results can be recreated and confirm the hypothesis. This project is a great way to begin understanding how the seasonal amount of solar elevation and solar energy define the local climate. Because data are needed from everywhere on Earth, citizen scientists like you are being recruited! Take these easy steps to make your measurements and then submit your findings to the research team:
- Decide if you want to take measurements daily from the equinox (Sept. 22, 2009) to the solstice (Dec. 21, 2010), just on those two special days, or some other times.
- Place a 1-meter stick positioned 90 degrees from a flat surface.
- At solar noon, measure the length of the sun’s shadow cast from the stick. (To calculate solar noon, visit: http://www.solar-noon.com/.)
- Download the following excel sheet to record your data: Shadow measures 2009_10.xls
- Send your results (be sure to include your latitude and longitude) here: firstname.lastname@example.org. The subject of the email should be “Sun Shadows.”
- Compare your results with those of other schools and discuss the differences.
- See the results from last year’s project:
IPY: Spring Equinox Measurements and
IPY: Sun Shadows Around the World.
- Read Shadow Length 2008-09 Proposal written by James Monroe students for more details about the project.
To read more about the Sun Shadows Project go to Antarctic Sun: News about the U.S. Anarctic Program or Nature Blogs.
AGI’s EARTH magazine also featured an article on the project in the May 2009 issue. To order a copy go to www.earthmagazine.org.
Lunar Outpost Design Challenge
Help NASA design facilities to support life on the moon! Click here
to find out how you can be the first to make exploration on the moon
Globe Contrail Count-a-thon
Help NASA scientists count contrails! Click here
for more information.
Moisture Sampling Campaign
Participate in a data collection project with scientists from the University
of Arizona to learn about the soil in your area. The goal of this project
is to create global and regional snapshots of near-surface soil moisture
for comparison with satellite and model data sets. Soil moisture data
will be collected during Earth Science Week and will be incorporated
into a national database.
Participants are asked to organize groups of students and parents
to collect near-surface (5 and 10 cm) soil moisture measurements following
the gravimetric data collection protocol (not under a canopy or in an
irrigated site) This project can be carried out within 60 minutes travel
time of your school, at any time during Earth Science Week and at any
time of day. Participants will need a GPS unit, a map, and access to
a soil drying oven which can be constructed by the group or used in
collaboration with a local scientific agency.
How can you participate? (Download
Collect samples within the nine-day campaign time window, which is tied
to Earth Science Week (Oct. 10-18, 2004) and the week surrounding Earth
Day. The samples can be collected at any time of day.
Selecting appropriate sample sites is one of the harder tasks you will
face. Soil moisture can vary depending upon the soil, canopy cover,
slope of the land, and sun exposure. But most of all, it is related
to the time since the last rain, snow or irrigation event. If at all
possible, sample from regionally important or typical areas that are
relatively uniform in character, flat, open (no canopy cover) and unirrigated.
In some cases, where it is convenient to collect soil from the road
right-of-way (see example, below), it is very important not to sample
from a roadside ditch, which tends to be wetter than the surrounding
landscape. Always make sure to respect private property and make sure
your area is safe for digging (lookout for motorist blind spots, poisonous
animals/insects, buried wires and pipes), particularly if you are next
to a road.
Use a garden trowel, ruler and water tight container to collect duplicate
near-surface soil samples, first from the surface down to 5 cm and then
between 8 and 12 cm depth. Collect at least 150 g of soil or enough
to fill an 8 oz (250 mL) cup half-way. Place each sample into a tin
can or foil pouch and then seal it in a plastic bag. Carefully label
each container and note where each sample came from (see the data worksheets).
Later, you will record the wet weight of your samples, dry them and
then record the dry weights (to the nearest 0.1 gram).
Details - finding latitude & longitude
If possible, find the Global Positioning System (GPS) latitude and longitude
of each of your data collection sites (reported as decimal degrees and
elevations in meters). Average 5 consecutive readings, one minute apart
to get a more accurate value. Sportsman, hikers and outdoor-orientated
parents or staff might already have a GPS your class could borrow. If
a GPS is not available, you can interpolate latitude and longitude from
a USGS topographic map.
Details - drying your samples
Your samples should be dried at 105 oC for 24 hours in a soil oven,
kiln or glass drying convective oven. Its even possible to build your
own oven out of a clean 55 gal drum split in half and heated using four
100 W light bulbs (link to plans). A microwave might work for a few
samples but takes time. We strongly encourage schools to contact local
colleges, businesses, environmental offices or county extension agents
to seek professional help drying your samples. Remember, as long as
you record the wet weights as soon after collection as possible, you
can dry your samples at any time.
Details - reporting the data
If you are a GLOBE school, enter your data into the GLOBE archive using
the near-surface protocol. Otherwise, Email or fax your completed data
sheets to email@example.com; 520-626-7770.
For more information, please visit http://www.hwr.arizona.edu/globe/sci/SM/SMC/,
The GLOBE program web site: http://www.globe.gov
The GLOBE soil moisture campaign
The University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721-0011,
Martha Whitaker or Jim Washburne
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
(520) 621-3041 or -9715
Printable Instructions for
Soil Moisture Campaign