CrowdMag app attracts educators and students to the field of magnetic mapping

Magnetic navigation is an important tool used in ships, planes, and even your phone’s GPS! Scientists use observations from satellites, ships, planes to keep track of the geomagnetic field’s changes, but there are always gaps in data coverage. The CrowdMag citizen science project from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) helps to fill these gaps and improve our understanding of Earth’s magnetic field.

Someone holding a mobile phone while using CrowdMag app on an outside path.

CrowdMag is a citizen science project that uses your mobile phone. Created by the National Centers for Environmental Information, the CrowdMag app uses your phone's internal magnetometer to record magnetic fields as you move around outside. Explore the data you collect and see if you can match up magnetic anomalies with objects in your environment. (Image credit: Trinity Foreman/NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information)

The project includes a mobile app that uses a smartphone's internal magnetometer to record magnetic fields as users move around outside. The crowdsourced data is then used to improve magnetic field models and magnetic navigation.

During the 2021 Earth Science Information Partner (ESIP) offsite link Summer Meeting’s Education Committee Teacher Workshop, the NCEI education and outreach team presented on how educators can use the CrowdMag app. Forty educators attended the multi-day virtual workshop, which focused on sharing earth science data tools with educators through interactive demonstrations and exploring how to use, collect, and analyze geomagnetic data with middle school and high school students. The workshop got educators excited about using the app with their students: “I think this would be great to use on a walking field trip ... and then have a discussion about changes and differences,” said one participant.”

Two workshop attendees, a middle school teacher in Kentucky and a high school teacher in Wisconsin, were inspired to propose projects using CrowdMag to the conference’s annual FUNding Friday offsite link mini-grant competition. These two projects were funded and both will support creating signs at their schools to encourage students and community members to use CrowdMag while moving around on their campuses.