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 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 WeatherBlur project to enhance understanding of how non-hierarchical online learning communities can enable deep, authentic community learning within co-created citizen science projects. The WeatherBlur program has been redesigned to be applied to a broader range of citizen science projects in a variety of contexts and thereby broaden participation.
What Is WeatherBlur?
WeatherBlur is a 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 may be related to weather and/or climate-changing events.
Communities use the online ‘iWonder’ space to pose idea and build investigatable questions. These can then evolve into scientific investigations as the wider community, including scientists and experts, add to the discussions and make questions SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant, Timely).
WeatherBlur investigations tend to fall into one or more of a number of themes. These themes are:
- Natural resources and how they may be changing over time.
- Water quality – both freshwater and marine.
- Severe weather events
These themes will be expanded as communities work on new problems that they wish to address.
We are currently in our third and final year of this phase of WeatherBlur with ten school communities involved in southern and mid-coast Maine.
WeatherBlur questions 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 benefit the wider community.
To participate in WeatherBlur all you need to do is register an account. It’s free.
How Are Schools Involved?
As part of the NSF grant, WeatherBlur invited 10 elementary/middle schools to become involved. Classroom resources (Common Core, ELA and NGSS linked) and equipment are provided to these schools and weekly online (Zoom) meetings help teachers to ask questions and work in a wider community. Professional development sessions for teachers have been held each year. A modest stipend is paid to participating teachers.
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 always seeking funding partners to expand the breadth and depth of WeatherBlur.
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 WeatherBlur 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 WeatherBlur project contributes 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.
Mrs. Westra’s 3-5th graders from Chebeague Island School
See Recent MMSA News about This Project:
This project is funded by the National Science Foundation, grant #1530465. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.