Citizen Science at SIUE: Help Us Support Youth Science Education in Madison County by Hosting a Noise Meter!

Citizen Science at SIUE: Help Us Support Youth Science Education in Madison County by Hosting a Noise Meter!

This week’s blog post is by our graduate assistant Christine Favilla!

Through the Department of Environmental Sciences and the STEM Center at SIUE, we are looking for people to host noise monitoring instruments throughout Alton, Edwardsville, Madison, and East St. Louis as part of our Y-CITYSCI program: a youth-based, environmental monitoring program that engages students in community relevant science. We hope these students will be able to conduct research with data collected from the noise monitoring instruments and test some pretty interesting hypotheses.

We are looking for outdoor areas to locate noise monitors for about one month while the COVID-19 shelter-in-place-order is in effect and then for a month after the order is lifted. We hope to test if there are differences in data collected during the stay-at-home order while there is less travel and fewer open industries compared to times when the state is operating under normal conditions. We plan to examine daily trends to explore patterns that address the questions: is noise pollution significantly lower during the shelter-in-place order or if noise pollution remains the same compared to unrestricted periods?

Noise pollution is defined as regular exposure to high sound levels. This kind of exposure can lead to adverse health effects on humans as well as other organisms that live in areas with high exposure. Sound is measured in decibels. If humans and animals are exposed to sounds greater than 85 dB for more than 8 hours regularly, it can be hazardous. People who live close to railway stations, major roads, or highways may be exposed to this amount of noise. We are using EXTECH Sound Level Meters, Model SDL600 for our data collection. They are battery operated, small, and, once placed, need little to no manipulation as they record data. They will, however, need to be placed out of rain to keep the meter and microphone dry.

We hope to assess noise pollution in several communities along the Mississippi River near St. Louis that comprise predominantly low-income neighborhoods. Many of these communities are former or current areas that rely on industries known for producing high levels of noise pollution. Additionally, people who live in areas of concreted poverty also tend to be those people who are underrepresented in STEM. Students who live in these communities tend not to have the opportunities to experience science and thus may struggle to successfully navigate STEM career pathways. The goal of the Y-CITYSCI program is to provide youth with authentic science engagement and study how particular aspects of these experiences impact their science identity development. This is the first of this three-year collaborative program and partners include SIUE scientists, STEM educators, and a local school. 

If you want to host a noise meter, we will share the data we collect at your location with you, and the students participating in the Y-CITYSCI program will also use these data. Please let us know if you are willing and able to host a noise meter on the outside of your building, preferably on a secure roof where rain is not a problematic factor.

If you are able to host a monitor or have any additional questions, please contact me directly at 618-401-7870 or cfavill@siue.edu