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.
Here at Zooniverse we’re starting some exciting new work in the humanities!
We’re pleased to announce our new collaboration with Tate Britain, a world-leading institute for art in the modern era, based in London.
Zooniverse and Tate are teaming up to tackle the difficult task of crowd-powered full-text manuscript transcription. This project follows on from the success of projects like Operation War Diary and Old Weather and will no doubt feed into other humanities projects in the future.
The new transcription interface will enable volunteers to read and transcribe the personal papers of modern British artists. Volunteers will encounter letters, notebooks and sketches that reveal artists’ everyday lives, creative practices and the processes by which great works of art were made.
We are seeking a talented front end developer with a passion for art and the humanities to work alongside our humanities specialist and the Zooniverse and Tate teams to deliver the project.
The closing date for applications is 12 noon on 25 July, 2014. For more information and to apply, see here: http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/AJB887/citizen-science-front-end-developer/
PS: We are also looking for a new web developer to join our team at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. You can view the job description here.
The Constructing Scientific Communities project (ConSciCom), part of the AHRC’s ‘Science in Culture’ theme, is inviting proposals for citizen science or citizen humanities projects to be developed as part of the Zooniverse platform.
ConSciCom examines citizen science in the 19th and 21st centuries, contrasting and reflecting on engagement with distributed communities of amateur researchers in both the historical record and in contemporary practice.
Between one and four successful projects will be selected from responses to this call, and will be developed and hosted by the Zooniverse in association with the applications. We hope to include both scientific and historical projects; those writing proposals should review the existing range of Zooniverse projects which include not only classification, but also transcription projects. Please note, however, ConSciCom cannot distribute funds nor support imaging or other digitization in support of the project.
Projects will be selected according to the following criteria:
- Merit and usefulness of the data expected to result from the project.
- Novelty of the problem; projects which require extending the capability of the Zooniverse platform or serve as case studies for crowdsourcing in new areas or in new ways are welcome.
- Alignment with the goals and interests of the Constructing Scientific Communities project. In particular, we wish to encourage projects that:
- Have a significant historical dimension, especially in relation to the history of science.
- Involve the transcription of text, either in its entirety or for rich metadata.
Note it is anticipated that some, but not necessarily all selected projects, will meet this third criterion; please do submit proposals on other topics.
The deadline for submissions is July 25th 2014. You can submit a proposal by following this link http://conscicom.org/proposals/form/
Today we’re launching a new, and hugely important Zooniverse project: Condor Watch. The are only around 200 California Condors living in the wild and they are in serious danger from lead poisoning, which they get by eating carcasses shot with lead bullets. Getting a better idea of how they interact and socialise is crucial to ongoing conservation efforts.
Using camera traps, ecologists in the US have been observing them in the wild. However the sheer volume of images is now overwhelming. Starting today we need your help to look through the first set of data: 264,000 images of condors eating, socialising, and nesting. Ecologists need everyone’s help to identify the individual birds from their numbered tags. Your efforts on this project will help preserve an endangered species – and we think that’s really special.
Try it now at www.condorwatch.org…
For more than a year, we’ve been openly accepting proposals for new Zooniverse projects and this has brought to life projects such as Seafloor Explorer, Snapshot Serengeti, Notes from Nature and Space Warps.
Yesterday, five Zooniverse projects were featured in The Biologist’s 10 Great Citizen Science Projects – several of them were ideas proposed by researchers we had never met before they came to us and said ‘hey, I have a cool idea for a project‘. We’ve also recently seen articles about how the Zooniverse might be able to help in a crisis and how we provide an excellent avenue for proactive procrastination. Citizen science projects are wide and varied and lots of researchers have great ideas.
So this is a good time to remind everyone that we want to hear from researchers with ideas for Zooniverse projects. If that’s you: propose a project! We have funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to build your great ideas and work with you to further science. We also have an incredibly talented team of designers, developers, educators and researchers who want to make your idea into an awesome new Zooniverse project.
If you want to know more about this, you can get in touch with any of the team or via our general email address or on Twitter @the_zooniverse. We’re currently working on projects that were proposed earlier this year and we’ll be announcing them soon. Maybe yours will be next?
Last week we had the pleasure of speaking to a class of pre-service teachers at Loyola University in Chicago. After discussing the basics of citizen science and the origins of Zooniverse, the teachers took time to explore projects of their choice. Always being keen to show-off Zooniverse’s new educational offerings, we then demonstrated ZooTeach and a beta version of Galaxy Zoo Navigator.
Many of these pre-service teachers are preparing to begin or are in the midst of their student teaching placements. We spent the rest of the class discussing ways they could incorporate Zooniverse projects into the classroom, specifically how they could be used to facilitate scientific inquiry. Over the course of the discussion the notion of “right” answers emerged. This was a real ah-ha moment for me. I suddenly remembered my own fears of getting the wrong answer as a first-time Zooniverse user. Whether a Zooniverse volunteer or a student, encountering a project for the first time can be a bit intimidating. There is the fear, however irrational, that by submitting an inaccurate classification you could single-handedly break science. If you look closely all of the different Zooniverse project sites are peppered with reassuring messages of “don’t worry you’re good at this” and “just give it your best try”.
Laura has previously blogged about how Zoonverse projects are used to engage museum audiences at the Adler Planetarium on the Planet Hunters blog. Whether working with members of the public or groups of students, we often encounter “Did I get it right?”. This is a tricky question to answer; Zooniverse volunteers are supplying the answers from which scientific interpretations are drawn. Projects employ measures of checking for accuracy. That’s why any given object be it a galaxy to classify or a bat call to listen to, is looked at by more than one individual. The “power of the crowd” yields more accurate results than one single person. Needless to say the idea of crowdsourcing as a quality-control mechanism is easier to convey to adults than to a bunch of eleven year olds. It’s difficult to get students over the hurdle that, in the instance at least, being right isn’t so important.
I don’t know about you, but this leaves my head full of more questions than answers. How do we as educators model for students that science can’t only be about getting the right answer? How do we encourage students that being wrong can be oh-so-right? Taking a risk of being wrong is brave and necessary to advance this thing we call science. So how about it, how do you encourage a risk-taking culture in your own classroom or other learning environment?