Science Center Objects

If you like to geocache and you want to contribute to research, or you are a scientist looking to engage the public in repeat observations at a particular place, you should try ScienceCache.  

ScienceCache is a scientific geocaching mobile application framework.  By melding training and games into the hunt for place-based data collection sites, and incorporating photo uploads as data or for authentication, new volunteers can collaborate in robust data collection. As a volunteer, simply download the ScienceCache app, choose a route, and then follow the directions to collect data.  

Scientists build a project on the administrative website app, specifying locations or goals for new data collection sites, clues for established sites, and questions to answer, measurements, or other activities for the site based on their individual data needs.

USGS is building on the success of the USA National Phenology Network (NPN) and Science Base, using a case study assessing phenology of bear foods in Glacier National Park and applying those lessons to a second project evaluating tree invasion into alpine meadows using repeat photography.

Screen shot of ScienceCache mobile application's site information.
Screen shot of ScienceCache mobile application's site information.  (Public domain.)

Public participation in scientific research (citizen science) can be a productive and cost effective way to collect data across large landscapes.  ScienceCache, consists of a website and app to help engage geo-cachers, youth, and scientists in citizen science.  Citizen science can lead to increases in data collection frequency, spatial extent, and efficiency, maintain data quality, improve data accessibility, lead to a higher degree of science education, and even create new collaborative models for scientific inquiry.  We are testing this framework with a huckleberry phenology project in and near Glacier National Park.  Depending on the time of year and access from the road, the public can choose one of several routes.  Our results will directly help plan for drought and disturbance impacts on bear foods and feed into the National Phenology Network.

 

The technology behind ScienceCache builds on a service-oriented architecture:

  • Power users (scientists and resource specialists) design a Route, a data collection exercise that includes both waypoints/points of interest and one or more target areas for data collection.
  • That Route gets incorporated a JSON-based configuration file. The designers can use any number of technologies to build this configuration file; the published design model allows developers to design their own JSON-builder.
  • All Routes are hosted on a ScienceCache gateway web application (https://www.sciencebase.gov/scedit).
  • The ScienceCache mobile application looks at the ScienceCache gateway to see what Routes are available to the user (the data collector).
  • The user selects one of the Routes and the ScienceCache mobile application downloads that configuration file from the gateway.
  • The ScienceCache mobile application reads the JSON-based configuration file and converts it into a mobile-ready data entry form.
  • The user follows the Route designed by the power user, finding interesting sights along the way. At the target area(s) the user performs some Route-specific data collection using the designed data entry form and image capture options.
  • Once in cell or wireless range, the user sends their collected data back to the ScienceCache gateway.
  • If the Route involves phenology data, those observations are sent to the National Phenology Network via the NPN web service.
  • Data from the collection, available as web services, can then feed project specific portals.