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Create inexpensive hail pads - Citizen Science Contest Answered

The SciStarter Citizen Science Contest is live! This is your opportunity to help millions of citizen scientists contribute to real scientific discovery. Make their experiences better by coming up with solutions to some real annoyances that hinder their participation. To get you started, here is a specific--and very real--challenge sent to us by project organizers.


Background: The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) volunteers take and submit measurements of rain, hail, and snow precipitation. These observations are made available for use by the National Weather Service, meteorologists, emergency managers, and others.

The Problem:  Hail pads are essential to CoCoRaHS's mission to measure, map, and study hail. Each pad consists of a 12" by 12" square of Styrofoam covered in Heavy Duty Aluminum foil. However, in recent years, these materials have tripled in cost, which has greatly reduced the number of hail pads that can be produced and distributed.

The Challenge: Create a cheaper hail pad that can measure the number, size, and orientation of hail stones.

Enter now! Contest closes January 21, 2013


More info from the Project Director, Nolan Doesken:
The hail pads we've used so far have been 1" (2.5cm) thick. That thickness has accommodated all but the largest hail stones. Stones two inches or more in diameter have hit some of our pads but at those sizes (which are not that common) they can begin to destroy our pads.
The thickness is less important than the ability of the design to accommodate both small (the vast majority of hail stones are 1 cm or less in diameter) and large stones.(we've had stones up to 10 cm in diameter and larger).

Thanks much,