Zooniverse team members based at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium celebrated Earth Day this weekend at Earthfest, a two-day-long celebration of the planet we call home.
In addition to many activities for all ages throughout the museum, museum visitors were able to speak with Zooniverse team members to learn about the many earth-related projects available online and on the app. Visitors could also participate in a real-life version of Floating Forests, in which they used tracing paper to illustrate areas of kelp forests on a satellite image. The activity demonstrated how Zooniverse researchers use aggregation to combine many classifications into one very accurate result. Stay tuned for the results of those tracings, coming soon!
Zooniverse team members also had some help from our friends at the Field Museum, who stopped by to talk about Microplants, a Zooniverse project studying some of the earliest land plants in the liverwort genus Frullania.
We love speaking with museum visitors and sharing the excitement of participating in real citizen science projects. If you’re in the Chicago area and missed us last weekend, keep an eye out for more information about the Adler Planetarium’s spring Members’ Night, when we’ll have even more fun Zooniverse-related activities for you!
Julie A. Feldt is one of the educators behind Zooniverse.org. She first came to us in Summer 2013 as an intern at the Adler Planetarium to develop and test out Skype in the Classroom lessons and ended up joining the team the following winter. Julie was the lead educator in the development of the Planet Hunters Educators Guide. Here she shares some information on the development and contents of this resource.
In collaboration with NASA JPL, we have developed the Planet Hunters Educators Guide, which is 9 lessons aimed for use in middle school classrooms. This guide was developed for each lesson to build upon each other while also providing all the information needed to do them alone. Teacher can choose to do one lesson on its own or the entire collection. Each lesson was planned out using the 5E method and to be accomplishable in a single 45 to 60 minute class period with some Evaluate sections as take home assignments. In development we focused on the science behind Planet Hunters and utilized JPL’s Exoplanet Exploration program and tools from PlanetQuest in order to connect with our partners in this field.
Through this guide, we want to introduce teachers and their classrooms to citizen science, exoplanet discovery, and how the science behind the Planet Hunters project is conducted. Lesson 1 starts by acquainting the class with what citizen science is and looking at several projects, mostly outside of the Zooniverse. This lesson is great for teachers who just want to talk about citizen science in general and therefore it encompassesmany different types of citizen science projects. The rest of the lessons go into the understanding of exoplanets and using Planet Hunters in a classroom setting.
We wanted to give teachers the lessons they may need to build student understanding of the research and science done in Planet Hunters. Therefore, Lessons 2 through 5 focus on developing knowledge of possible life outside our solar system, the methods used to discover new worlds, and what makes those worlds habitable. For instance, in Lesson 2 students explore our own solar system with consideration of where life as we know it, directing them to the idea that there may be a habitable zone in our solar system. The students are asked to break up into groups to discuss how each of the planets compare with consideration of their location . We provided solar system information cards, see an example below, for students to be able to determine the conditions necessary for life as we know it to develop and survive.
Lesson 6 is purely about getting students acquainted with Planet Hunters, specifically how to use it and navigate the website for information. This lesson can be great for the teachers that just want to show their students how they can be a part of real scientific research. After, students use the project data to find their own results and visuals on exoplanets found in Planet Hunters. Something to note, lesson 7 and 8 are pretty similar, but Lesson 8 incorporates a higher level of math for the more adventurous or older classrooms. Lesson 9 either wraps up the guide nicely or can be a fun activity to add to your science class where the students creativity and imagination comes out through designing what they believe a real exoplanet looks like, see summary from first page below.
We hope our teachers enjoy using this product! We would love you hear how you have used it and any feedback that could be used in any future development of teacher guides for other projects.
Kelly is one of the Zooniverse educators based at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. Today is her birthday, so we decided to get her to do a special edition of ‘Meet the Team’ for the advent calendar. In the video she talks about Zoo Teach, which is an educational tool provided by the Zooniverse. Check it out here http://www.zooteach.org/
Today we let loose a new feature called Zooniverse Groups. We’re always being told how our projects are used by schools, open evenings and other groups of people. This is great, and we encourage the use of our projects in education. We are often asked by teachers if it is possible for them to manage a group of students and keep track of their classifications. Today’s release is the first step in allowing this type of management by educators and others who want to share the Zooniverse.
You can access Groups from your account settings on Zooniverse Home. By default you will see the options to create a group. You do this by by giving the group a name and quick description. Once a group has been created (you will be the first member) you can then invite others to join in. You do this by viewing the group’s settings page (the cog icon next the group’s name). Here you can invite people, either by knowing their Zooniverse user ID, or by sending them a unique group link.
As an example, if you follow this link – http://www.zooniverse.org/account/new?group=ab55cbbd – you’ll join my example group called ‘Rob’s Example Group’. If you already have a Zooniverse ID you can then sign in and join the group, or you can create an account and join as a new Zooniverse user.
As the owner of a group you can see how many classifications each user has made since joining the group – and we have provided a couple of charts showing this data. We’d really like to hear from you about the other features you’d like to see included as a group owner. As a group member you get to see who else is in the group and the contact details of the group owner. Note to group owners: your email address is shared with members of the group.
Groups currently only tracks your Galaxy Zoo activity. We had to start somewhere and we get the most requests for groups from schools using Galaxy Zoo. We plan to add in support for other projects as time goes by. Group members can leave a group at any time, and group owners can remove members at any time. Group owners can delete a group at any time and this will delete all membership records – we don’t store your group activity after deletion.
Groups is in an early stage and we’re keen to hear what else you’d like to use it for. If you have feedback please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.