Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Android App: Development Motivations 5/24/2014


The water sources of earth are in need of our help.  They are stressed in urban areas by point and non-point sources of pollution, subjected to over development in suburban areas, channeled away from rural areas to cities (e.g. Colorado river to Los Angeles), and even in wilderness areas are being subjected to the complexities of climate change.  Human technology to date has been a major source of this stress.  Machines drink and pollute water with extreme efficiency.  However, not all technology is bad.  It improves the life quality of people for the most part and is not going anywhere any time soon.  It is time to think about Green Technology, build up Mother Nature instead of tearing her down.  What aspects of technology can be used to improve the state of global water supplies and natural water bodies?  I have come to the conclusion that what is needed is citizen science initiatives that protect water.  Indeed, in Georgia we have such an initiative.  The Georgia Adopt-A-Stream program offers ordinary people the ability to collect data for environmental scientists to use to protect Georgia watersheds.  I learned about this initiative through my work with AmeriCorps at the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) efforts to educate local refugees at Clarkston High School about water science.  My supervisor Justin Howell used to be a teacher and is now the education and learning manager at the IRC.  He used to do great work with his students with Adopt-A-Stream getting them to become citizen scientists.  I seek to continue this effort.  As I start efforts to become a public school teacher, I aim to get well acquainted with Adopt-A-Stream with the intention of bringing students to water to teach them about the beauty of nature and train them to be citizen scientists.  For me, this effort is not enough.  I seek to empower the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream program with my technological skills that I honed during my Ph.D. studies at UC Berkeley in chemistry.  My goal is to become an educational software developer as a second career in parallel to public school teaching.  I envision my computer programs being useful for environmental education for K-12 students.  My current work is to develop an Android app for the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream program.  Their website is a data collection portal and provides citizen scientists the ability to enter data and to view data from others on pages like Google Maps.  I am currently creating wireframe mockups of the Android app using Google Developer manuals like provided here.  An example of the app interface is provided above.  The app will be unique and of high quality than the current state of the art smartphone app for water protection, IBM’s Creek Watch.  The app will collect more data than the IBM Creek Watch app and focus on quality over quantity.  Data will be uploaded to the Adopt-A-Stream database here.  Unique aspects of the app will be visual habitat analysis entry data screens like show below:

Adoptastream_habitatsurvey_05232014    The app will enable any citizen who has an Android smartphone to enter photos, data, and comments about local water supplies in rural, suburban, and urban areas to the Georgia Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Adopt-A-Stream database.  The app will also integrate with the Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter social networks to advertise the initiative in a grassroots manner.  I dream of an app that is globally useful that is developed locally in Georgia.  I am proficient in C, Python, and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance programming as demonstrated by my Ph.D. dissertation published here but need to work hard to learn Java for Android programming.  I have three resources that I am drawing upon currently to help in this learning process.  First, Treehouse the online programming video tutorial website.  Second, the Head First into Java book which uses graphics to introduce challenging programming concepts.  Third, the advanced Android Programming: Pushing the Limits text.  Another resource will be the Adopt-A-Stream web developer and programmer who knows Java.  I am excited to take each small step towards developing an app for Georgia’s Adopt-A-Stream program.

I envision my primary vocation, public school science teaching, complementing my work as a citizen scientist-Android app programmer for Georgia Adopt-A-Stream.  I hope I can at some point incorporate students into the development work.  It would be cool for talented students to participate in the actual coding portion of the app development.  I will be thinking of ways to develop a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) curriculum for the project as I enter Georgia State University to work on earning a teaching certificate and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree as a first step to becoming a public school teacher.  We need to get out students proficient in technology that is designed to protect Mother Nature.  I hope that my work with an Android app for the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream program can be of use to this effort.  May ordinary citizens work to protect Mother Nature’s water together in the 21st century.  I will work hard to help Georgia become a leader in citizen science that can inspire a global change.

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About kayaerbil

I am a Berkeley educated chemistry Ph.D. who is moving into the area of working on developing appropriate technology for communities that are subjected to socio-economic oppression. The goal is to use simple and effective designs to empower people to live better lives. Currently, I am working with Native Americans on Pine Ridge, the Lakota reservation in South Dakota. I am working with a Native owned and run solar energy company. We are currently working on building a compressed earth block (CEB) house that showcases many of the technologies that the company has developed. The CEB house is made of locally derived resources, earth from the reservation. The blocks are naturally thermally insulating, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Eventually, a solar air heater and photovoltaic panels will be installed into the house to power the home and keep it warm, while preserving the house off the grid. A side project while in Pine Ridge is a solar computer. I hope to learn about blockchain encryption software for building microgrids. In addition, it is an immediate interest of mine to involve local youth in technology education.
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