GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 178-3
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


BEDDOWS, Patricia A., Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208-3130 and MALLON, Edward K., Triple Point Design, LLC, Evanston, IL 60202

Online outreach can be challenging for technical projects because the audience for self-directed learning material is diffuse and difficult to identify. The Cave Pearl Project developed an open-source data logging platform that is easy to assemble and capable of multi-year operation. The system was published formally in 2018, with a project website/blog documenting the project since its inception in 2013. This has now reached >80k unique IP visits a year, providing insight on viewership demographics and project-level impact. The site’s content can be grouped into three broad categories: 1) Technical how-to guides, with detailed build instructions and calibration procedures. 2) Narratives on the challenges of deploying instruments in the field. 3) Classroom resources based on material used in the problem-based learning course EARTH 360-Instrumentation at Northwestern University. Traffic is dominated by organic Google searches for entry-level material, and secondarily by links from Pinterest and Reddit. Seasonality is consistent with school calendars in North American and Western Europe, indicating pedagogical use. Traffic for the more advanced technical material is driven by referrals from popular technical forums (e.g., Dangerous Prototypes, Quora, etc) Low but continuous traffic arrives from the project presence on open-source community sites like Hackaday, Publiclab, Scistarter, etc. Field reports draw negligible interest, and in 2018 that material was migrated to Twitter. While the USA represents 50% of the overall viewership, the per capita by country traffic is biased towards Western Europe, with Germany leading. South and Central America, Africa, and most of Asia are low (with the exception of India), implying this material is not yet reaching the scientific and educational communities who could benefit most from powerful but inexpensive open-source instrumentation.
  • Beddows Mallon - 2018 - Cave Pearl Project - Online Platform for Broader Impact and Educational Outreach_GSA2018.pdf (3.1 MB)