Saturday, April 25, 2009

NASA Workshop at UNH

Thursday and Friday, Steve and I participated in a two-day workshop at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) organized by Annette Schloss to mark the beginning of the three-year NASA grant on Digital Earth Watch (DEW) and Picturepost
It was very inspiring to meet great people who care deeply about our world!  We heard from representatives from all the principal science centers in northern New England.  Brian Rogan of ESIP (Earth Science Information Partners), formerly with the Museum of Science in Boston has taken over from John Pickle, the originator of the Picturepost concept.  He is supervising a team of WPI students currently in residence at the WPI Boston Project Center who also attended the workshop and gave a couple of presentations about their ongoing Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP).  We also heard from Iain MacLeod, a scotsman who loves hawks and directs the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center; Don McCasland, a kite-flying enthusiast who directs the Blue Hill Observatory in Boston; Steve Engstrom of the Seacoast Science Center, where the only fully operational picturepost is located; and Peter Crane of the inhospitable yet fascinating Mount Washington ObservatoryOur part of the grant is focused on making the Citizen Scientist's experience as rewarding as possible, using the most successful crowdsourcing and feeback mechanisms that employ web 2.0 techniques. I specifically wanted to hear about web-related successes and failures from representatives of well-established citizen science programs.  We couldn't have asked for a better panel.  We heard from Kitty Gifford from the Cornell Bird Lab, Sandra Henderson and Kirsten Meymaris from Budburst, and Shauna Maggs from Groundspeak. They were all so inspiring that I will devote a separate blog entry to each in the days to come.
In the meantime, we should all "be the picturepost" as Jeff Beaudry, the project evaluator from University of Southern Maine, invited us all to be.  Steve -- who has always struggled to discern the difference between the literal and the metaphorical -- took this recommendation to heart and has been acting like a picturepost ever since.

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