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NOVA Energy Lab

NOVA Energy Lab

For something we use every day, energy is a pretty mysterious concept. NOVA Energy Lab investigates what energy is, how it can be converted into useful forms, and why some sources are running low. In our Research Challenge, citizen scientists use scientific data to design renewable energy systems for cities across the U.S.—and compete with others to see whose designs can produce the most power.

Students and other citizen scientists can create virtual wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass systems to provide reliable power to real cities, from Tennessee to California. Participants will use maps, graphs, and weather data to assess the energy potential of each geographic location and design their system to meet production targets based on resident demand. They will then test their model against actual historical and real-time weather and solar data and work to update and optimize their systems based on this feedback.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: NASA, Harvard University
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • PROJECT TYPE: Observation
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages
  • TIME COMMITMENT: Variable
  • HOW TO JOIN:

    For more information, visit the Nova Labs home page.

See more projects in FreeObservationAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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