Happy Halloween! Going Batty for Citizen Science

Sadly there don’t seem to be any scientifically valid citizen science projects about ghosts, poltergeists, hobgoblins, or werewolves.   There are, however plenty about that Halloween staple – the bat.

Bats get a bum wrap as blood sucking pests.  Nothing could further from the truth!   Bats are incredibly helpful to us humans because they are natural pollinators and pest controllers, but they are also an indicator species.  Indicator species are plants and animals that can be studied to give a snapshot of an ecosystem’s environmental health.

Here are a few ways that you as a citizen scientist can get involved with learning more about these amazing animals.

Bat Detective  – Zooniverse’s own bat project.  Bat calls are recorded by data collection citizen scientists and then uploaded on to the Bat Detective website.  Zooniverse volunteers classify the calls to give scientists a better idea about the distribution of these animals in Europe.

Alaska Bat Monitoring Program – Did you know that Alaska is home to five species of bats?   If you live in Alaska you can help the Alaska Department of Fish and Game collect learn more by making and sending in your observations of bats!

iBats (Indicator Bats Program) – This international effort recruits volunteers to record bat calls all around the world.  iBats is collaboration between the Zoological Society of London and the Bat Conservation Trust.

 

Know of other bat-related citizen science projects?  Please share them as a comment below!

 

Introducing Darren McRoy – Zooniverse Community Builder!

darren

 

Back in August I wrote about our search for someone we were calling a ‘community builder,’ which I said was ‘the most important job in the Zooniverse.’ The position was created because of the rapid expansion of the project, and the plans we have for the next year or two, which will mean we may be able to create hundreds or thousands of new projects. If the Zooniverse isn’t constrained by the slow process of project-by-project development, then we need to rethink how we choose what is hosted on our platform, what gets promoted—and how we talk about such things. We need, in fact, to try and build a broader Zooniverse community, capable of taking the choice of projects out of our hands. At the same time, we want the tools we use to engage with this community to let everyone have a say, from new classifiers on a single project to those who roam freely across all of our Talk discussion boards.

As many of you will have already discovered, we’ve found someone we can help us with this process — Darren McRoy. Darren is a 2010 graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He has worked as a reporter and editor and is an experienced writer and communicator with a strong focus on developing online communities and strategic digital content. One of his first projects will be gathering and compiling the feedback that will inform the upcoming rebuild of the Talk discussion system. He will be a regular presence on the forums, responding to users’ comments and concerns and seeking opportunities to spur additional conversation. He will also be contributing some written content for Zooniverse projects, blogs, websites, etc. when needed, and giving feedback to the development team.

You should see quite a lot of Darren, and we’d like to encourage you to talk to him if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or other feedback about the Zooniverse community. In particular, right now he is seeking feedback about how Talk can be improved to better serve both the science goals and the growing community of contributors and volunteers.

Darren can be reached via email at darren@zooniverse.org or DZM on Talk. Please feel free to contact him — he is looking forward to working with all of you!

Chris

We Need Us: Online Art, Powered by the Zooniverse

Screenshot 2014-10-09 12.08.31

The Zooniverse is the subject of a new artwork co-commissioned by the Open Data Institute (ODI) and The Space (a website for artists and audiences around the world to create and explore digital art). We Need Us is a ‘living’ dynamic artwork, powered by your activity on the Zooniverse, driven by the thriving mass of participation across various Zooniverse sites. You can learn more about it at www.thespace.org/weneedus

We Need Us has been created by artist Julie Freeman. She takes anonymised information from your clicks, counting the number of volunteers active on various Zooniverse projects, and classifications that you all create, every minute. She stores this in a new database as sets of values, while also recording the frequency of activity over an hour, a day, and a month. These sets of values create rhythms that are translated into moving shapes, and play different sounds.

The result is a set of living artworks – one for each of 10 Zooniverse projects – and more are on the way! The live data ensures constant change to the visual and sonic composition. The sounds are processed and manipulated just like the data.

Screenshot 2014-10-09 12.08.15

While many researchers have tried to analyse and understand the Zooniverse, We Need Us will be the first time someone has tackled the idea from the perspective of art. The Zooniverse community is an engine of discovery and a force unlike any other. We Need Us highlights its rhythms and patterns, showing how diverse and vibrant Zooniverse citizen scientists really are.

You can run the artwork in your web browser by visiting http://www.weneedus.org

Penguin Watch: Top images so far

Yesterday we launched our latest project: Penguin Watch. It is already proving to be one of the most popular projects we run, with over one hundred thousand classifications in the first day! The data come from 50 cameras focussed on the nesting areas of penguin colonies around the Southern Ocean. Volunteers are asked to tag adult penguins, chicks, and eggs.

Here are my favourite images uncovered by our volunteers so far: (click on an image to see what people are saying about it on Penguin Watch Talk)

1st Rule of Penguin Watch - You don't have to count them all. But I dare you to!

1st Rule of Penguin Watch – You don’t have to count them all. But I dare you to!

 

Living on the edge

Living on the edge

Penguins aren't always only black and white...

Penguins are always only black and white…

I think they want in!

I think they want in!

Spot the tourists

Spot the tourists

We're saved!

We’re saved!

Coming back from a refreshing afternoon swim

Coming back from a refreshing afternoon swim

 

See what amazing pictures you can find right now at www.penguinwatch.org

Do you have what it takes to be a Zoomanities Developer?

The Zooniverse team is looking to recruit a Javascript/front-end developer as part of a joint project between Zooniverse, based in the Department of Physics at the University of Oxford, and Tate Britain (London).

Building on the success of high-profile research crowdsourcing projects such as Galaxy Zoo (www.galaxyzoo.org), Planet Hunters (www.planethunters.org), Operation War Diary (www.operationwardiary.org/) and the rest of the Zooniverse.org platform, the successful candidate will lead the development of a ‘citizen art history’ project, working closely with a team from Tate and Zooniverse.  As the lead front-end developer for the project you would have a background in excellent interface design and an understanding of user behaviour.

This is an exciting opportunity for a talented developer to work on a high-visibility project. This is a full-time position for 12 months (including benefits). Strong HTML/CSS/JavaScript skills are required including experience of working with third party REST APIs and modern JavaScript MVC frameworks like Backbone. A good understanding of user interface design is also a must. A background in developing highly-usable interfaces for web applications and experience of working with a modern web framework such as Ruby on Rails would be an advantage.

The application and further details can be found here.

Adler Teens Working in Citizen Science

Today’s guest post comes from Sarah Xu and Thomas Janopoulos about their experience as our Citizen Science interns at the Adler Planetarium as part of the Teen Intern Program.

Sarah Xu is currently a senior attending Air Force Academy High School. She has a wide range of interests that change all the time, but computer science has been an interest ever since she was introduced to it in 7th grade. She also is really into Biology, but the Adler Planetarium has recently sparked interests in Astronomy.

Thomas (Tommy) Janopoulos is a Sophomore at Jones College Preparatory High School. He aspires to be an aerospace engineer, focusing on the mechanical engineering aspects of the field. He has a large interest in using the autodesk inventor program, a 3D modeling program to recreate objects virtually.

How did you become a Teen Intern at Adler Planetarium?

Tommy: I learned about the Adler teen internship from my sister, who was a long time volunteer at the Adler. She suggested that I apply to their upcoming internship. She explained that I already know some of the staff from the Web Making for Civic Hacking program, which was a program where we created websites about teen issues to present to problem solvers interested in finding solutions to our issues, we did earlier in the year and having a familiarity with the staff would make the transition into a work environment easier. Also the fact that the Adler is a space science museum would be great for me considering I want to go into aerospace engineering as a profession. So I decided to apply to the internship and now I am in the Citizen Science intern position creating an activity on a Zooniverse project about urban wildlife in Chicago.

Sarah: How I got my internship has a lot to do with my school. Air Force Academy High School has a partnership with Adler. Freshmen year, we had several field trips where we did various activities around the Adler. Many of the students at my school get involve with the Adler. I was brought into the a teen program, Youth Leadership Council (YLC), my sophomore year by one of the volunteers who attended my school. Youth Leadership Council is an after school program where teens plan workshops for civic hack day, a day where people come to offer solutions for any problems that are presented. There I got to know Nathalie Rayter, who is in charge of the Adler teen programs and internship. By talking to her, I received a lot of opportunities to be part of the planetarium. Junior year, I was a member of YLC and a volunteer telescope facilitator. I just kept coming back to Adler through many different programs. This summer I was looking for something to do because I previously interned at an investment firm, but didn’t really enjoyed it much. I was trying to find an internship that’ll provide a different experience. My classmates and teachers along with Nathalie told me to go for the Adler internship. I applied and got the position as a Citizen Science Intern!

As a citizen science intern, I learned a lot of what the Zooniverse does. Zooniverse is a group of people who work on websites for citizen science. On my first day, I was introduced to two projects. One of them is finished while the other one is still being worked on, but will launch September 10th. Tommy, my peer, and I chose to work with the one that is still being worked on. The reason for that is it takes place in Chicago and it would be a bit easier to have the participants we meet at events around Chicago connect to it. Our project with our department is to design an interactive activity that will spread the word of this citizen science project and also citizen science itself. We designed our activity for mainly museum visitors, such as families and younger kids.

What does being a Teen Intern entail?

A teenager as an intern… the title says it all! A bunch of teenagers working together sounds like a lot of fun. For the most part it is, but it also requires many skills to become one. As teen interns at the Adler Planetarium, we have several projects going on. Every intern is assigned to a department with a supervisor who will give you projects to accomplish. On top of that, every teen is required to work on a personal project that we have to pick from a list. Every teen has to make a project to be showed off at the Community Bash which is a party to display what we have done over the summer. We also have to do our daily jobs which can consist of various tasks such as making an activity to being on the floor doing an activity. Now it might not be something that is interesting to you, but having an open mind is very important. You never know until you actually follow through with the project and that is from personal experience! With all these projects happening all within the same 8 weeks, we have to be very organized and on top of our schedule in order to finish them in time. One badly organized and managed day will set everything behind! But incase that does happen, communication and diligence were the key things that helped put us back on track. It is imperative to communicate with our supervisors and other peers so that we can collaborate to get our work done. This internship is not about working alone at all. 99% of the time we did activities and projects with each other. You must be able to work with others because that will really help you succeed in this internship. There is just one last thing you need… Enthusiasm! You will be interacting with lots of visitors and your peers. If you do not have a positive attitude everything else you need to succeed in this internship will not be able to flow because no one wants to work with someone that does not want to be there.

How did you choose what to work on and what did you need to learn to do the work?

When we walked into Zooniverse, Julie, our supervisor, gave us a run through of what citizen science is and what kind of work they do in the office. Then she told us about the two newest biology projects: Condor Watch and a project looking at urban wildlife in Chicago (now with a name, Chicago Wildlife Watch). Condor Watch is up and running, while the other project launches September 10th. Fortunately with the launch date near, they had a demo site we were able to explore to get a feel of what it is. So, we played around with the projects to see what they’re really about. We were given the option to either work together on one or separately on either. Tommy said he liked the animal conservation one because it takes place in Chicago and I agreed. We figured it was easier to introduce the activity and connect it with most of the museum visitors because we’re in Chicago. It’s also a good way for Chicagoans to be more aware of what’s truly around them in this amazing city. It is not just buildings and artifacts; we also have nature that could put people in awe as well.

Chicago Wildlife Watch is a collaboration between the Urban Wildlife Institute at Lincoln Park Zoo partnered with Zooniverse to create a project that will help with animal conservation in Chicago. Camera traps are set up all around Chicago to gather images of what kind of animals live here, their behavior, and how they interact in the urban setting. So we came up with an activity that will not only help promote the project, but also convey the message of nature being everywhere to the public. We designed this activity with museum visitors in mind, meaning it is aimed towards younger kids and families. We use animal cards containing the picture and some factoids of the animals along with a big image of a basic background with a house, park, tree, underground, and water. During the activity, depending on the age group, we give the physical description of the animal and have the kids guess it, whereas with little kids, we would show them the picture and have them guess that way. If they guessed it right, we would hand them the card and have them stick it up to where they think the animal lives. Even though we live in the urban Chicago, we’re still part of nature. Along with that, we hope that participants will have an idea of what citizen science is and what exactly is Zooniverse. A more detailed description and run through will be up on Zooteach when the project launches on September 10th!

After we chose what project we wanted to make an activity around, we had to first learn what concepts we would need to cover, so we went onto the demo site to learn more about the project. We had to researched what conservation is and how it applies to the project so we could have a better understanding on what points we wanted to get across for our participants. Looking at the website and the background information given wasn’t enough. We had a meeting with one of the driving forces of the project, Seth, and one of the lead members of the Lincoln Park Zoo and its Urban Wildlife Institute on what he would like people to take away from our activity. He said, “I want people to know that nature is everywhere”. That gave us a way to go on our activity. It was hard to come up with an activity to do. We tried to google some classroom activities that teachers do for animal conservation. After a few days of research and talking to our supervisor, we took a whole morning to just brainstorm outreach activity ideas. Our supervisor gave us an activity idea earlier that week on how they had classrooms work to classify images of animals and put them into the according bin or bag. So then we took that idea and try to add on to it to fit into our urban wildlife activity. We thought we could have people classify the animals of Chicago. Then we came up with an idea of having our participants try to guess what animals live in Chicago since the project looks at Chicago’s urban wildlife. We thought this activity would hit our learning goal of understanding what nature is and that it is all around us, even in the city. So we presented this idea to our supervisor and then ran with it. We typed up our concept and showed it to peers and supervisors and were constantly updating and adjusting to develop the best activity possible. Now time to test it out!

Our visit to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum helped us to a realize what age group we really aim for. At the Nature Museum, there was mostly little kids who are around 3 or 4 years old excluding summer camps. We weren’t able to test it with kids that young because there is a limited amount of knowledge as to what the kids know about urban wildlife. They do know the very basic animals, but it was hard to carry out our whole activity because our activity contains questions that are at elementary school level. However, there were adults that were interested in what we do and often they are parents of little kids. With the adults, we found out that we just have to describe what citizen science is, what the Zooniverse does, and the project that they’re currently working on. We would proceed to do the end part of our activity which is to show them the demo site of Chicago Wildlife Watch. They would try out the demo site and because it only has a limited amount of pictures, we would try to direct them to try out our other projects. Sometimes Snapshot Serengeti would be used to show a better demonstration of what the fully functional website of the project would look like. At the end of the talk, either one of us would give them a postcard to encourage the visitors to go on Zooniverse.org to try out the projects on there. Through testing it on the floor at Adler, we noticed that it is difficult to draw people in. Creativity really helps with floor activities. People are usually more drawn into something “cool”.

What were the challenges with your project?

Sarah: After we designed the activity, we had to test it out on the floor. That was the second most challenging part of the whole project. The first was having to come up with an activity that’s will get people involved and convey the message we want. I’ve always struggled with public speaking. It was hard for me to go up to the visitors and ask them to help us test run the activity. However, I got past the awkward stage after having to interact with visitors on so many different occasions.

Tommy: Creating this activity has been so much fun and enjoyable but like any other job it had its challenges. My biggest challenge was taking a Citizen Science project and creating a fun interactive activity that educates people about urban wildlife and how they can contribute to science. When you get this job of creating an activity you think creating an activity is easy but having to consider how people learn, how not to bore young kids, how to get people to stop and participate, and how to hit all of your objectives you set becomes a massive task. With a lot of hard work and the help of my peer Sarah, we researched and brainstormed and found a way to take all of these aspects into one activity which is now “What Lives With Us.”

What do you feel you have gained from being a Teen Intern this summer?

Sarah: Through this internship, I had to talk to visitors a lot, so communications and public speaking are things that I got away from it. My ways of starting a conversation and demonstrating things to the public has improved. Aside from that, I was also able to learn what Zooniverse does, what citizen science is, and about Chicago’s wildlife. More importantly, I’ve gained friendships with other teens and professional relationships with the staff members that will only benefit me. It’s great to be able to have this experience of interning at a museum. This summer has been awesome thanks to the Adler, and I hope all the other teens and supervisors had as much fun as I did!

Tommy: This internship has given me so much its hard to put it into one sentence but the one thing I can say is that this job is incomparable to any other opportunity for someone my age. This gives teenagers the opportunity to gain work experience and actual know what its like to be in a work environment while learning new things everyday as if we are in an outside school program. This job showed me how to teach others my knowledge by using simple techniques such as outreach activities to make people understand simple concepts also just teaching me what is and how to create an outreach program. I have learned all the steps educators take in creating lesson plans and understanding how the lesson benefits the participant so they walk away with a skill or knowledge. Now I can identify what it takes to teach others. This internship has also provided me with friendships and relationships that I would never had made without it. I have developed peer friendships by working and hanging out with each other on a daily basis. I have gained relationships with my supervisors, not just the worker to supervisor relationship but friendship as well. We are able to talk with each other not just about work, which has created a fun workplace. Finally this internship has given me connections that can benefit me for years to come in whatever field I decide to pursue. I feel it has given me everything it had to offer and it exceeded expectations in how amazing an experience this has been I gave the Adler my all and I hope I was able to return the favor.

 

ZooCon Portsmouth this weekend – remote participation invited!

We’re getting excited in Portsmouth to be welcoming some Zooites to the first ever “ZooCon Portsmouth”, which is happening this Saturday 13th September 2014 (An updated schedule is available on the Eventbrite page for the event).

The theme of this event is a Wiki-a-thon for Citizen Science – we have scheduled a working afternoon and improve the coverage of citizen science on Wikipedia. Mike Peel, Expert Wikimedian and astronomer from the University of Manchester will be joining us to lead this part of the event and get us all up to speed with how editing works.

We invite remote participation of the wiki-a-thon via this discussion thread on Galaxy Zoo Talk, or on Twitter with the hashtag #ZooConPort, and we also plan to livestream the morning talks via Google+.

In person attendees will have a treat in the afternoon – we’re all excited to have Chris Lintott narrate planetarium shows in the Portsmouth Inflatable Astrodome. And we plan to end the day with fish and chips at a pub by the sea. Keep your fingers crossed for nice weather.

Voyage to Teaching in the Zooniverse – A Teacher Workshop in Chicago

Today’s post comes from Kate Meredith. Kate is a former middle school and high school teacher who considers herself a virtual person in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey database.  She has been involved with pilot testing, writing and training teachers to use the database for the past twelve years.  Kate will be facilitating this teacher workshop at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago on October 11th. 

In the past ten years there has been an explosion of internet-based citizen science research in astronomy. Hundreds of thousands of people have contributed to scientific research through Zooniverse projects.  Participants in Galaxy Zoo, Sunspotter, Planet Hunters and more have been so active that educators and scientists needed to develop new ways for participants to explore beyond the focus of any one project.  The result is a whole host of new web-based tools designed to assist citizen scientists in exploring vast quantities of astronomical data on their own.

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) has been part of the Zooniverse since the beginning, contributing millions of images in four separate projects. The SDSS itself has been providing web-based tools, activities and resources to educators through the SkyServer website since 2004.  Check-out this video for more information about SDSS education resources.

About the Workshop:

On Saturday, October 11, 2014 the Adler Planetarium in Chicago will host a free all-day workshop giving an in-depth look at a new SkyServer education website, Voyages, Zooniverse web tools and the ZooTeach lesson and resource repository.

Workshop highlights will include

  • Introduction to the Sloan Digital Sky Survey
  • A brief history of the Zooniverse
  • The Voyages website and the NGSS
  • Database Basics with SkyServer – Find Your Special Place in the Database
  • Galaxy Shape in the Galaxy Zoo – Navigator Tool in the Classroom
  • Scaffolded Research Experiences for Lab Settings
  • ZooTools
  • Resources Abound – Voyages Preflight, Help Documents and Zoo Teach

This free workshop for Chicagoland educators is appropriate for 9th-12th grade teachers or middle school teachers who work with advance students. Participants are asked to bring a laptop or tablet in order to fully participate in activities. Lunch will be on your own, so please bring a bagged lunch or plan to purchase in the Adler’s cafe. The first five participants that sign up for this workshop will receive a coupon for a Saturday Tour at Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin where they can pick up one of the large SDSS telescope plates that you will learn about at the workshop.

 

For more information or to register please visit http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/events/voyage-to-teaching-in-the-zooniverse-a-workshop-for-teachers

Questions? Email education@zooniverse.org

 

Teens Designing Zooniverse-Themed Programs for Their Peer at the Adler Planetarium

This summer high school juniors and seniors from the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy program joined Zooniverse educators at the Adler Planetarium for six days of program prototyping. The IIT Boeing Scholars Academy seeks to inspire high-achieving Chicago-area teens to lead and serve through STEM with an emphasis on pursuing higher education. One component of the summer portion of the program is to embark on a Service Through STEM project during which the scholars coordinate with Chicagoland organizations on projects benefitting the organization. That’s where the Zooniverse team based at the Adler Planetarium comes in.

The Problem:

It probably doesn’t come as a complete shock that the dedicated corps of Zooniverse volunteers is not largely comprised of teens. That’s something we’d like to change. What better way to figure out how to better get more teens involved in Zooniverse projects than by going straight to the source? Sixteen IIT Boeing Scholars worked with Zooniverse and Adler educators on strategies to engage more teens in Zooniverse citizen science projects at the Adler Planetarium.

The Goal:

In order to develop ideas of how to better engage young people in Zooniverse citizen science projects, the sixteen IIT Boeing Scholars stepped into the role of informal science educator to develop a series of museum programs to potentially implement at the Adler Planetarium based around Zooniverse projects.

Museum Program Development:

A huge component of any informal museum educator’s job is to develop programming. Programs come in an endless array of formats – perhaps a five-minute science demonstration, a series of workshops for teens, or an interactive activity within a museum exhibit. As the saying goes there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and that’s certainly true of program development. No matter which model of program development you follow, there is a set of common considerations to be made including

  1. Who is this program for?
  2. What is the content of this program?
  3. What is the best format or program model to use?
  4. What should the audience take away?

 

Answers to these questions formed the skeleton around which the programs would be built.

Who is this program for?

This was the easiest question for the IIT Being scholars to answer. Since we’re looking for ways to engage teens in Zooniverse projects, the audience for the scholars’ programs was their high-school aged peers.

What is the content of this program?

The content for the programs being designed by the scholars was limited to the science content behind active Zooniverse projects. While a constraint, with over 20 active Zooniverse projects the list needed to be considerably narrowed down. The teens began assessing Zooniverse projects to determine which would be of the most interest to their peers. After careful review they selected Radio Galaxy Zoo, Condor Watch, Cyclone Center, and Planet Hunters as the projects that would be most engaging to teens. The science case behind each of these projects would be used as the meat and potatoes behind the programs the scholars designed. 

What is the best format or program model to use?

There are endless possible formats for an informal science program at a museum. In order to explore the options the IIT Boeing Scholars spent time exploring different museum programming models at the Adler. The participated in a 45-minute field trip workshop designed for 7th-12 graders, watched science demonstrations facilitated in Adler’s exhibits, explored museum exhibitions, and watched a planetarium skyshow. After this exploration the group created a menu of museum program models and defined them so that we could develop a shared vocabulary of what program models they would be working with.

  • Structured Workshop – a longer facilitated hands-on program with a set start and finish time
  • Unstructured Workshop –a longer hands-on facilitated program where museum guests can come and go as they like
  • Demonstration – a short facilitated program on the museum floor
  • Exhibit – one small piece of an exhibition that (e.g. a model and accompanying text panel about Saturn)
  • Exhibition – a collection of exhibits that group together around a central theme (e.g. Our Solar System)
  • Planetarium Skyshow – a presentation including images, music, and narration presented in one of the museum theatres

What is the goal of this program?

Some informal science educators would call them learning goals; others might call them program objectives. Whatever they’re name, program developers should identify what they want their audience to take away from a program. These may be experiential goals like “Have fun” or more content driven goals like “ Program participants will be able identify lead poisoning as a threat to the endangered California condor population.”   The IIT Boing Scholars aimed to incorporate at least one experiential goal and one content goal in their programs.

The Programs:

Once they were able to answer the questions above, the scholars were ready to put some meat on skeleton the questions provided. The scholars broke into four small groups with each group working together to write a rough draft of a program outline that could be used by a person unfamiliar with their ideas to facilitate the program. Here are the program ideas they came up with…

Program Name: Save the Condors

Featured Zooniverse Project: Condor Watch

Program Model: Demonstration

Description: This 10 minute floor demonstration was designed to bring awareness to the problem of lead poisoning within the critically endangered California condor population and publicize how members of the public can assist scientists in their continuing efforts to save this species. The demonstration starts off with a video placing the viewer in the shoes of a condor suffering the effects of lead poisoning. Next the facilitator shows a hands-on activity showing how lead spreads throughout the condor’s body when it ingests a lead bullet embedded within the carcass on which it was feeding. The demonstrations ends by introducing Condor Watch as means to help research scientists better understand how to detect early warning signs of lead poisoning.

 

Program Name: Inside a Cyclone

Featured Zooniverse Project: Radio Galaxy Zoo

Program Model: Planetarium Skyshow & Demonstration

Description: This group created a storyboard and script for a short skyshow. Unfortunately time did not allow for the development of a prototype that could be projected in one of the museum theatres. This program delved into the science behind tropical cyclones, also called hurricanes or typhoons. It introduced the mechanics of how these storms work, safety precautions that should be taken in the event of such a storm, and the drastic impacts these weather events can have on people and property. Cyclone Center was introduced as a way for people interested in meteorology to participate in the important research behind tropical cyclones.

 

Program Name: Are We Alone?

Featured Zooniverse Project: Planet Hunters

Program Model: Demonstration

Description: This 5-10 minute floor demonstration was designed to take place on a small stage on the museum floor. Using the Drake Equation, the facilitator engages audience members in a conversation about the possibility of alien life in our galaxy. The program ends with an invitation to actively participate in the search for habitable worlds through Zooniverse’s Planet Hunters project.

 

Program Name: The Mystery of the Universe: Black Holes

Featured Zooniverse Project: Radio Galaxy Zoo

Program Model: Structured Workshop

 

Description:

This 30 minute workshop was designed to introduce teens to perhaps the most asked about of space phenomena – black holes. Through a video, hand-on demonstrations, and a small group activity the facilitator guides program participants through. Radio Galaxy Zoo is presented as a way for teens to continue their exploration by helping scientists locate supermassive black holes.

 

We really enjoyed working with these bright and motivated young people!

The most important job in the Zooniverse

Job ad

The Zooniverse team has, over the last five years or so, shown signs of growing uncontrollably like some sort of bacterial colony that requires feeding with grant money. The job we’ve just advertised (at Adler Planetarium) might, though, be the most important yet. As those who are eager followers of this blog will know, we’re currently working hard on rebuilding the Zooniverse platform so that it can support many more projects.

If the Zooniverse can get to the point where we’re no longer constrained by the number of projects that can be built, we will need to think about how projects get chosen to appear on the Zooniverse, and about who should make that decision. Our opinion is that you – our community – should be more involved, and to work out how to make that happen we’re looking for what we’re calling a ‘community builder’. As you’ll see from the job description, this isn’t a technical post, but rather we’re looking for someone who knows how to build a community that is capable of awesome things. If that sounds like you, please get in touch.

Chris

PS The post is funded by a new grant from our friends at the Alfred P. Sloan foundation, to whom we’re eternally* grateful.

* – or as near as we can make it

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