kGeigie and the future citizen scientists

The kids checked Jam's radioactivity.

On 24th July 2016, a Safecast volunteer crew participated in hosting a workshop at the  “Mirai Summer Camp Kids Workshop” event at Roppongi Hills in Tokyo. About sixty kids from as young as eight to fifteen years old proved that anyone can be a citizen scientist.

Safecast coordinated two  three-hour workshops with three sessions each. Kids were seated in groups of 10, and rotated among three tables to experience different types of activities. We designed the three stations to facilitate our young friends in (1) brainstorming (2) building (3) and exploring.

Brainstorming 

In the Brainstorming station, we invited our young friends to ask what Safecast is as we shared a brief history of how we started. We then challenged them to come up with their own ideas for citizen science projects. They had a lot of ideas, from saving flora and fauna to measuring air and sound levels, to examining the correlation of white holes and black holes in space.  We saw great potential in these kids! It was heartwarming to think that they will someday escalate the world of citizen science through the kind of wonderful ideas triggered at such a young age! They’ve proven that anyone can be a citizen scientist!

Brainstorming with Prof. Azby

Brainstorming with Prof. Azby

Building the kGeigie 

Anything is possible! Yes the kids assembled their own geiger counters! We designed a simple geiger counter kit we dubbed the “kGeigie,” that can be assembled and disassembled within 60 minutes and is capable of performing simple measurements when linked to the Safecast app on an iPad or iPhone. The kids were all given a kGeige kit along with a diagram of instructions on how to assemble it. We then briefly explained the basics and away they went. Voila! No child  went home without becoming a kGeigie master. Everyone was able to build a kGeigie and experiment with it.

Building1

The kids listened intently to Pieter’s pointers on building.

Exploring 

The Exploring station was all about seeing it for yourself. This table had a wide selection of bGeigies and other measurement devices, as well as many examples of naturally radioactive objects and scientific samples. Safecast volunteers explained the basics of radiation science and measurement, and the kids were allowed to experiment with measuring themselves. How does distance affect the measurements?  What can be used to block radiation?   could see the curiosity and excitement light up this group once they started scanning objects with a bGeigie! And of course there was a quiz afterward…

Beep, beep ,beep! Suddenly they wanted to measure everything.

Beep, beep, beep!

It was a long day, 6 hours altogether, with 8 Safecast members teaching almost 60 participants, but we nailed it! We definitely want to interact with more young citizen scientists and share our vision and mission, so please let us know if you have any ideas for workshops we can do for your school, club, or society. We’ll keep you posted for our next events so stay tuned with Safecast!

We did it!

We did it!

 

By Nesya

About the Author

Azby Brown

Azby Brown is Safecast's lead researcher and primary author of the Safecast Report. A widely published authority in the fields of design, architecture, and the environment, he has lived in Japan for over 30 years, and founded the KIT Future Design Institute in 2003. He joined Safecast in mid-2011, and frequently represents the group at international expert conferences.