Your help could further MMSA’s vision of a brighter STEM future for the State of Maine and the nation. Today, I ask you to support MMSA and become a part of the movement to support exciting new ways for our youth to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math.
WeatherBlur (WB) Next Generation is an exciting project funded by a three-year cyberlearning grant from the National Science Foundation. The project continues work by a previous WB project to enhance understanding of how non-hierarchical online learning communities can enable deep, authentic community learning within co-created citizen science projects. With development, the WB design will be able to be applied to a broad range of citizen science projects in a variety of contexts and thereby broaden participation.
What Is WeatherBlur?
WeatherBlur is a cutting-edge community-based non-hierarchical citizen science platform that allows communities to develop their own research programs, called investigations, to help them solve a local problem that is related to weather and/or climate-changing events.
In WeatherBlur we are looking for investigations that can:
- Really help our community understand the environment (climate, biology, oceanography, ecology, geology etc) in which we live.
- Help our community plan for changes in our environment (either short-term dramatic events or long-term changes).
WeatherBlur investigations tend to fall into one or more of a number of themes. These themes are:
- Environmental/ecological changes due to climate change
- Weather, sky and water observations
- Severe weather events
These themes will be expanded as communities work on new problems that they wish to address.
We are currently in the final stages of development of the weatherblur.com website with new “I Wonder” and “Investigations” processes to support this community.
WeatherBlur investigations can be initiated by ANYONE in the community. Business leaders, elementary school students, teachers, community volunteers, and other participants can all have great ideas and local in-depth knowledge of issues that need to be addressed. The important thing about WeatherBlur is that it brings all these people together to work as equals to gather data and draw conclusions that can really benefit the wider community.
To participate in WeatherBlur all you need to do is apply for membership. It’s free.
Currently, WeatherBlur is focused on communities in Maine and some sister communities in Alaska. Over time, and with funding, WeatherBlur will expand into other geographical locations.
How Are Schools Involved?
As part of the NSF grant, WeatherBlur invites elementary/middle schools to become involved by helping students to participate in the program. Classroom resources (Common Core, ELA and NGSS linked) and equipment are provided to selected schools, and teachers are provided professional developed and support. A modest stipend is also paid to selected participating teachers.
Schools have been chosen to participate in the first year, but recruitment will open again for the second year.
Can Any Organization Become Involved?
We are happy to discuss collaboration with any like-minded organization who sees mutual benefit in being involved with WeatherBlur. Please contact MMSA Executive Director Ruth Kermish-Allen.
We are also always seeking funding partners to allow the breadth and depth of WeatherBlur to be expanded.
WeatherBlur in the Larger Research Picture
The main focus of the current NSF funding is to test the WeatherBlur processes and to evaluate how participants learn through their participation. The WeatherBlur project will continue to enhance understanding of how non-hierarchical online learning communities in a co-created citizen science project frame can enable deep, authentic community learning. With development, the WB design will be able to be applied to a broad range of citizen science projects in a variety of contexts and thereby broaden participation. The WB project will contribute to current computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL)-related learning theories particularly knowledge building, funds of knowledge, communities of practice, and place-based education.
In a non-hierarchical online learning community, participants of all ages and diverse backgrounds come together to share and build knowledge about a concept that is of interest them. Every member of the community is both a producer and consumer of information who brings a special expertise to share. To our knowledge, WeatherBlur is one of the only active non-hierarchical online learning communities in the country.