Tag Archives: conferences

The Science of Citizen Science: Meetings in San Jose This Week

I and other Galaxy Zoo and Zooniverse scientists are looking forward to the Citizen Science Association (CSA) and American Association for the Advancement of Scientists (AAAS) meetings in San Jose, California this week.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we’ve organized an AAAS session that is titled, “Citizen Science from the Zooniverse: Cutting-Edge Research with 1 Million Scientists,” which will take place on Friday afternoon. It fits well with the AAAS’s them this year: “Innovations, Information, and Imaging.” Our excellent line-up includes Laura Whyte (Adler) on Zooniverse, Brooke Simmons (Oxford) on Galaxy Zoo, Alexandra Swanson (U. of Minnesota) on Snapshot Serengeti, Kevin Wood (U. of Washington) on Old Weather, Paul Pharoah (Cambridge) on Cell Slider, and Phil Marshall (Stanford) on Space Warps.

And in other recent Zooniverse news, which you may have heard already, citizen scientists from the Milky Way Project examined infrared images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and found lots of “yellow balls” in our galaxy. It turns out that these are indications of early stages of massive star formation, such that the new stars heat up the dust grains around them. Charles Kerton and Grace Wolf-Chase have published the results in the Astrophysical Journal.

But let’s get back to the AAAS meeting. It looks like many other talks, sessions, and papers presented there involve citizen science too. David Baker (FoldIt) will give plenary lecture on post-evolutionary biology and protein structures on Saturday afternoon. Jennifer Shirk (Cornell), Meg Domroese and others from CSA have a session Sunday morning, in which they will describe ways to utilize citizen science for public engagement. (See also this related session on science communication.) Then in a session Sunday afternoon, people from the European Commission and other institutions will speak about global earth observation systems and citizen scientists tackling urban environmental hazards.

Before all of that, we’re excited to attend the CSA’s pre-conference on Wednesday and Thursday. (See their online program.) Chris Filardi (Director of Pacific Programs, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History) and Amy Robinson (Executive Director of EyeWire, a game to map the neural circuits of the brain) will give the keynote addresses there. For the rest of the meeting, as with the AAAS, there will be parallel sessions.

The first day of the CSA meeting will include: many sessions on education and learning at multiple levels; sessions on diversity, inclusion, and broadening engagement; a session on defining and measuring engagement, participation, and motivations; a session on CO2 and air quality monitoring; a session on CS in biomedical research;
and sessions on best practices for designing and implementing CS projects, including a talk by Chris Lintott on the Zooniverse and Nicole Gugliucci on CosmoQuest. The second day will bring many more talks and presentations along these and related themes, including one by Julie Feldt about educational interventions in Zooniverse projects and one by Laura Whyte about Chicago Wildlife Watch.

I also just heard that the Commons Lab at the Woodrow Wilson Center is releasing two new reports today, and hardcopies will be available at the CSA meeting. One report is by Muki Haklay (UCL) about “Citizen Science and Policy: A European Perspective” and the other is by Teresa Scassa & Haewon Chung (U. of Ottawa) about “Typology of Citizen Science Projects from an Intellectual Property Perspective.” Look here for more information.

In any case, we’re looking forward to these meetings, and we’ll keep you updated!

AAAS Symposium in Feb. 2015: Cutting-Edge Research with 1 Million Citizen Scientists

Some colleagues and I successfully proposed for a symposium session on citizen science at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Jose, CA in February 2015. (The AAAS is the world’s largest scientific society and is the publisher of the Science journal.) Our session will be titled “Citizen Science from the Zooniverse: Cutting-Edge Research with 1 Million Scientists.” It refers to the more than one million volunteers participating in a variety of citizen science projects. This milestone was reached in February, and the Guardian and other news outlets reported on it.


As we all know, the Zooniverse began with Galaxy Zoo, which recently celebrated its seventh anniversary. Galaxy Zoo has been very successful, and it led to the development of a variety of citizen science projects coordinated by the Zooniverse in diverse fields such as biology, zoology, climate science, medicine, and astronomy. Most of you are familiar with many of them, and the projects include, for example: Snapshot Serengeti, where people classify different animals caught in millions of camera trap images; Cell Slider, where they classify images of cancerous and ordinary cells and contribute to cancer research; Old Weather, where participants transcribe weather data from log books of Arctic exploration and research ships at sea between 1850 and 1950, thus contributing to climate model projections; and Whale FM, where they categorize the recorded sounds made by killer and pilot whales. And of course, in addition to Galaxy Zoo, there are numerous astronomy-related projects, such as Disk Detective, Planet Hunters, the Milky Way Project, and Space Warps.


We’re confirming the speakers for our AAAS session now, and the plan is to have six speakers from the US and UK who will introduce and present results from the Zooniverse, Galaxy Zoo, Snapshot Serengeti, Old Weather, Cell Slider, and Space Warps. I’m sure it will be exciting and we’re all looking forward to it! I’m also looking forward to the meeting of the Citizen Science Association, which will be a “pre-conference” preceding the AAAS meeting.

NSTA Denver – Day 1

5:45 –  Up and atom (sorry, I can’t resist a good Simpsons reference).  To the hotel gym for a little wake-up exercise.   Criminey, altitude does make exercise harder.

7:00 – Caffeinating and fueling up for a day of science education. Mmmm.. Oatmeal.

7:45 – Checked in and all official. Check out the fancy presenter ribbon 🙂

Science Runs Through It!
NSTA Denver- Science Runs Through It!

8:00 am –  First session of the day!  Understanding the Vision for Science Education from the NRC Framework and the Next Generation Science Standards from Brett Moulding. My takeaway from this was the idea of a “science performance”.  Just as students showcase the skills they practice in music class at a concert or a performance, so must students with science.  Students need opportunities to try out what they’ve learned by applying them.

9:00 –  Found a bench and an unoccupied outlet to catch-up on emails and work on another conference proposal.

10:30 –  Random conversation with fellow conference goers about inflatable planetarium domes. Evoked horrifying flash back of nearly being trampled by preschoolers trying to get to the front of the dome to see Elmo at outreach event several years ago.

11:30 –  Strolled through first half of the exhibit hall.  Nearly gave in and bought an I Heart Science t-shirt.

12:00 – Conference going is hard work, grabbed a bento box to fuel more science education networking!

12:30 Second session of the day – STEM! How to Create Rigorous, Authentic Learning for All.  An overview of the transformation of Preston Middle School in Colorado into a STEM-centered school.  The stand-out point was the importance of engaging faculty in STEM.  Specifically, when creating a STEM-focused school, build around the passion of the teachers. Their enthusiasm and passion will draw students in.

1:35 –  Realization that in fact I didn’t finish my slides for tomorrow’s presentation.

2:00  – Third and final session of my day – Building Collaborative Partnerships to Advance K-12 STEM Education.  A panel discussion of creating collaborations to strengthen STEM educational initiatives.   My biggest take away from this session was learning about the National Girls Collaborative Project .

3:30 – Search for afternoon coffee (thanks 7-11).

4:00 – Slides, slides, slides.  Put together the last portion of tomorrow’s presentation – Bringing the Zooniverse into the Classroom.

6:00 – A dinner of subpar Mexican food.  Perfectly good guacamole ruined by olives.

7:00-  Slides done, now to blog.

8:10 – Blog done!

More from NSTA tomorrow.