Speck Monitor Empowers Citizen Scientists

The Speck air quality monitor was mentioned in a recent article by NPR's StateImpact series. The article focuses on citizen scientists and the impact their data can have on scientific research and activism. Part of the article covered the Citizen Sense project from the University of London. As part of the project, researchers gave Speck monitors to people living near natural gas development in Pennsylvania's Susquehanna county. The main interest of the project is not the air quality readings but what the residents do with the data.

The full article can be found here.

Website for the project can be found here.

SW PAECT Regional Event Gives Attendees A Taste of Technology: With CREATE Lab Projects As Part of Student Showcase

On Wednesday, May 23, 2012, PENNSYLVANIA ASSOCIATION FOR EDUCATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS & TECHNOLOGY (PAECT) SouthWestern Chapter held its first Regional Event. This “Taste of Technology” TECH and TELL was held at St. Louise de Marillac School in (Upper St. Clair) Pittsburgh, PA from 5:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M.             

Zee Ann Poerio, Technology Teacher for K-8 at St. Louise de Marillac, was the host and event chair. Ken Klase, principal of St. Louise de Marillac School welcomed everyone and Dr. Shirley Campbell, Past President of PAECT, thanked everyone for attending.

Following a light technology themed dinner with APPetizers, BYTE sized sandwiches, computer potato CHIPS to munch, and COOKIES, the attendees were invited to a visit a student showcase which featured technology from Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab. http://www.cmucreatelab.org/ An exhibit featuring a Robotic Ancient Coin made by the STL Student Technology Team using the ARTS & BOTS (formerly Robot Diaries) - Hummingbird Kit was displayed for human robot interaction.  Also, 8th grade student, Tom W., invited attendees to attempt challenges he programmed for the FINCH, another robotic device. A GigaPan was on display along with a large print for attendees to post comments. Jillian G. and Francesca G., eighth grade students, also volunteered at the event. They demonstrated how Turning Technologies http://www.turningtechnologies.com/ response devices or “clickers” can be used in the classroom, and they assisted in registering teachers with EDMODO http://www.edmodo.com/ accounts to prepare for the workshop.

Dan Plesco of Direct Tech Solutions explained the benefits of using a Meraki Wireless Access Point. The access point was installed that day and attendees were able to see how quickly schools could benefit from the technology. SWPAECT members presented the attendees with  a “taste of technology” that they could put to use in the upcoming school year. Attendees learned how to power their classes with EDMODO http://www.edmodo.com/ (Zee Ann Poerio, K-8 Technology Teacher),  engage their students with the new SMART Notebook 11 http://smarttech.com/notebook11 (Brandie Boback, Certified SMART Trainer), and use Twitter http://twitter.com/ for the Classroom and PD (Silvina Orsatti, IT Specialist.)  The session ended with a TECH & TELL where attendees shared their favorite web tools.

Thanks to the following organizations for donating these fantastic door prizes:

Smart SolutionTechnologies, L.P.         Smart Board Interactive Whiteboard SB680 Smart Board or  Smart Response Training http://smarterguys.com/

Meraki     http://www.meraki.com/                                                    Meraki Wireless Access Point

SWPAECT        http://www.paect.org/                                         Barnes & Noble Gift Card and book

Turning Technologies   http://www.turningtechnologies.com/                        Turning Technologies Response System Trial

Special thanks to Dom Salvucci who joined us via SKYPE to share his experiences with Edmodo, Jana Baxter of SW PAECT, St. Louise de Marillac School administration and staff,  and Theresa Enyeart, Toni Luvara, and Jean Rowles for their help on the day of the event. This event was FREE for PAECT Members and $5.00 for Non–Members. Attendees received PA ACT 48 credit and left with “cookies” (to eat) and great ideas to share with their colleagues and use immediately in their classrooms.

Photos from this event can be viewed here:
(Created with ANIMOTO http://animoto.com/ another great web tool!)

Submitted by Zee Ann Poerio, SW PAECT Member (Event Planning Committee) Teacher, St. Louise de Marillac Catholic School

WaterBot featured on The Climate Code blog

in a guest post by Prof. Illah Nourbakhsh

"Six counties are preparing to take on WaterBot on a larger scale in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, epicenters of the Marcellus Shale drilling controversy. As schools and citizen groups take this on, adopting local waterways, measuring them and sharing the data using Fusion Tables, we believe citizens’ abilities to directly impact policy will be greatly amplified, armed as they will be with real data that is easy to visualize and communicate in powerful ways." read the full post

CREATE pilots Waterbot with Loyalhanna Watershed Association!

WaterBot is a citizen scientist project that prototypes a low-cost, easy and mobile method to monitor small streams.  The water-sensing bot measures temperature and conductivity as indirect measurements of Total Dissolved Solids, indicating changes in water quality.  The data is transmitted from the bot and automatically uploaded to waterbot.org in real-time with the goal of empowering communities, educators and kids to monitor and log the effects of industry and pollution on their watershed systems.

On Thursday October 27th, CREATE visited the Loyalhanna Watershed Association in Ligonier, PA, the first to pilot and test Waterbot in a project monitoring the effects of Marcellus Shale Drilling on the streams, lakes and rivers.  The LWA will compare the data with other data loggers that they have been using and posting on their site: http://www.loyalhannawatershed.org/water.asp  
Josh Penatzer and LWA share their expertise in placing sensors and best practices for installing sensors to avoid damage from wind, ice and animals.  The CREATE Lab is excited to use these methods in the future to share cheap water monitoring technology.  A huge thanks to Josh and the Loyalhanna Watershed Association for all their work!
  Look for more information about Waterbot pilot programs and availability in the future.

A T-post installed in the stream bed is a stable way to install a water-sensor.  The post is tether to a tree or other object with a coated steel cable.  The sensor extends from the bot, wrapped in plastic to shield it from the elements, into the stream where it gathers temperature and conductivity data.

Josh of the LWA demonstrates methods for gathering data from sensors in streams with Max.  Right, the Waterbot sensor is weighed down and suspended in the water. 

The CREATE team with Josh's sensor post - Jessica P., Max and Dror!

By Jessica P. for CREATE Lab