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 is an exciting project funded by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The project continues work by previous WeatherBlur projects to bring together students, educators, scientists and community members across varying communities and educational settings. These community stakeholders work toward a common goal to help their communities thrive and 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.
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 an 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.
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.
How Are Schools Involved?
As part of the NAS grant, WeatherBlur has invited 10 elementary/middle schools to become involved. In addition to the Maine coastal and island schools, who have participated in years past, we have expanded our geography to include schools from Mississippi and Alabama. Classroom resources (Common Core, ELA and NGSS) 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 will be held each year and 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 Rebecca Clark Uchenna. We are always seeking funding partners to expand the breadth and depth of WeatherBlur.
WeatherBlur in the Larger Research Picture
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. Students in the Gulf Coast will engage with peers in coastal Maine, national environmental health experts, and local community stakeholders to develop research questions, collect field data, share results, and discuss strategies to inform the development of action projects that are tied to their communities.
In a non-hierarchical online learning community, participants of all ages and diverse backgrounds will come together to share and build knowledge about a concept that is of interest to 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.
Visit WeatherBlur’s website to see the project in action.