Calling All Citizen Scientists! Radiolab and WNYC’s Data News Team Announce Cicada Tracker Maker Events

Calling All Citizen Scientists!
Radiolab and WNYC’s Data News Team Announce
Cicada Tracker Maker Events

Monday, April 8 at Brooklyn Brewery and
Sunday, April 14 at New York Hall of Science

Project also includes an Interactive Cicada Tracker Map, DIY How-To Video, and “Bug Blog” with Cicada Recipes, Clean-up Tips, and more!


(New York, NY - Monday, April 1, 2013) – The cicadas are coming! The cicadas are coming! Magicicada Brood II emerge en masse every 17 years from their underground lairs from Virginia to Connecticut to mate, shed their skins, and die.

Sometime between April and May these large, winged insects will make their next visit, and Radiolab and WNYC’s Data News Team are calling on all science enthusiasts, gardeners, and DIY hobbyists to help predict the exact date of the onslaught.

On Monday, April 8 at Brooklyn Brewery
and Sunday, April 14 at New York Hall of Science in Queens, Radiolab will host two DIY/maker events where attendees will build “cicada sensors” that can detect, based on soil temperature, the timing of the emergence. Attendees will be invited to insert the sensors into their yards and gardens, and report the temperatures back to the WNYC Data News interactive cicada map covering the affected region.

For residents outside of the NYC metro area and true do-it-yourselfers, Radiolab and the WNYC Data News team have created materials that show people how to build the sensors at home with supplies readily available on the web or at local electronics supply stores. At “Cicada Tracker,” found on the web at, one can find:

  • A Radiolab how-to video
  • Written step-by-step instructions
  • A “Bug Blog” about all things cicadas, from their storied history and personal remembrances to cicada recipes and clean-up tips
  • An interactive space to post photos observations, and the distinctive sounds of the cicadas
  • And of course, the map where people can report their sensor’s temperatures
  • Alternative ways to track the cicadas (including soil thermometers and average readings)

The Cicada Tracker Events are made possible through the generous support of the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning Program.

“Part citizen science, part crowd-sourced journalism, the Cicada Tracker is WNYC’s first attempt at broadly applying an exciting new aspect of data journalism -- using sensors to understand, report on, and even expose issues in our communities,” said JOHN KEEFE, Senior Editor of the Data News, WNYC, who first unveiled the Cicada Tracker at SWSX. “The more sensors we can get into the group, the more successful this effort will be. We’re thrilled to team up with Radiolab and its great audience of curious seekers for this project. ”

"At Radiolab, we've learned that even people who don't think of themselves as 'science-savvy' enjoy biology or engineering if it's presented in a playful way," said ELLEN HORNE, Executive Producer, Radiolab. "The Cicada Tracker project and these communal events make it easy for folks who don't have a lot of experience with science or engineering to jump in and become a valuable source of data about these mysterious, memorable insects."

"This project synthesizes two core aspects of NYSCI's programming," said MARGARET HONEY, President and CEO of New York Hall of Science. "Both citizen science and do-it-yourself making are central to so much of what we do, so this is an ideal partnership with WNYC, giving visitors an opportunity to participate in an exciting and timely project."



Monday, April 8, 7:30-10:30pm
Brooklyn Brewery
FREE, reservations required

Join Radiolab host Jad Abumrad, WNYC’s Data News Team members of Hack Manhattan, and fellow Radiolab fans and New Yorkers for a night of “Bugs & Beer.” We supply the parts, you bring your maker spirit. First beer is free!


Sunday, April 14, 12-3pm
New York Hall of Science

FREE with general admission. Space is limited.
Family-friendly, recommended for children 12 and over

Build "cicada detectors" that take the temperature of the soil with help from Radiolab and WNYC Data News team staffers. Take home the detector, be a citizen scientist, and share your findings on the WNYC Cicada Tracker! You'll learn all about the bugs, too.

Please visit for further information.

About Radiolab:

Radiolab is public radio's cult sensation about discovery, wonder, and big ideas. The show can be heard on more 420 public radio stations across the country, and consistently tops the podcast ranks on iTunes with its avid national and international audience. The Peabody Award-winning program is produced by WNYC, the nation’s most listened-to public radio station.  Downloads, web exclusives, a blog, and more is available at

 About New York Public Radio:

New York Public Radio is New York's premier public radio franchise, comprising WNYC, WQXR, The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, and New Jersey Public Radio, as well as,, and As America's most listened-to AM/FM news and talk public radio stations, reaching 1.1million listeners every week, WNYC extends New York City's cultural riches to the entire country on-air and online, and presents the best national offerings from networks National Public Radio, Public Radio International, American Public Media, and the British Broadcasting Company. WQXR is New York City's sole 24-hour classical music station, presenting new and landmark classical recordings as well as live concerts from the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, among other New York City venues, immersing listeners in the city's rich musical life. In addition to its audio content, WNYC and WQXR produce content for live, radio and web audiences from The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, the station's street-level multipurpose, multiplatform broadcast studio and performance space. New Jersey Public Radio extends WNYC reach and service more deeply into New Jersey. For more information about New York Public Radio, visit