Random & Significant Collaborations

On my way to work yesterday I passed no fewer than 2 dead barn owls, a barn owl roadkillmangled coyote and a very dead skunk, all in the space of less than a quarter mile, all the victim of the technological age we cohabit.

This finds space here because of what I’ve found to do with this experience.  Still the science educator, still the biologist, I’ve joined the California Roadkill Observation System as an observer of roadkill.  Using a combination of technology tools, including iPhone with voice memos and GPS, those four animals became more than the latest carnage.  They joined the thousands of animals per year logged by 500-some observers throughout the state, part of a study conducted by a team of ecologists at UC Davis to paint an accurate picture of our roadway relationship to wildlife in our state.

This isn’t a recruitment effort, but simply an observation of how networked individuals interested in making a difference can utilize our tools for making meaning.  The educational opportunities here abound, as the observational data is fully available in list and graphic formats to anyone visiting their website.  But primarily it is an effective and very satisfying  collaboration of like-minded people.

search for extraterrestrial intelligence logoOther examples of Random and Significant Collaborations include the SETI@Home project where you can be part of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence from the comfort of your computer.  seismology mapNASA’s Climate@Home project utilizes the same “virtual supercomputer” infrastructure to study climate change.  The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, or IRIS, brings networked school seismographs online through their very rich hardware, software and training offerings.

To bring to students the power of collaboration by participating in an effort that directly brings meaning to your life is powerful modeling.  It is also very satisfying to be doing something about issues that are simply too big for a single person to tackle.

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