General Science and Teaching

Citizen Science: Investigating Environmental Noise Pollution

Students working at home can participate in a number of citizen science projects to help scientists collect and analyze data. I have several projects in need of help and am specifically looking for participants in my 'Silent Earth' project which you can find at the page at  The goal of this project is to find the quietest place in your environment or places that you travel to for vacation. Noise pollution is a major health issue, which you can learn about using simple Google searches. My project will use smartphones to measure the decibel levels in urban, suburban, rural and wilderness locations on a global scale to identify where pockets of quietude still exist and over time how they are diminishing in size. This is similar to night sky light pollution studies. 

An interesting and timely feature of this project has to do with the Covid19 shut-down of many cities/states and localities. SIlent Earth would like to document just how quiet our environment has become compared to 'before' and 'after' measurements, which can be conducted in the participant's back yards. 

Silent Earth is a great data-gathering operation that can connect real-world science with lessons about sound, natural resources, social studies and other subject matter including mathematics. In the later case you can download an excel spreadsheet of all the data collected so far and have students analyze it using simple statistical tools and graphing via excel.

To join the project, on your smartphone visit the app store and download the Anecdata app. After you register, scan through the 300+ projects and 'join' Silent Earth. The introduction page gives all relevant information. To make a measurement just tap the +Observe key. The data page will open and you can then make your measurement and submit it.

The figures attached show decibel measurements made before and during the Covid19 shutdown from my backyard, a quiet area sound map of the Washington DC area (units in decibels), and the current sound map of the continental USA. Participants are needed to help fill in the USA map. This is a great school/afterschool project that can be done anywhere!!!


2020April5Covid.png (0.15 Mb)

QuietPlacesV1.jpg (0.56 Mb)

USA.jpg (0.38 Mb)

Sten Odenwald
Sten Odenwald
40 Activity Points

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