Creating real and authentic opportunities for students to learn goes a long way in inspiring an ongoing passion for education. Zooniverse is a fascinatingly special website that delivers these opportunities through a number of diverse citizen science projects, where students can participate and contribute to real research online. Using the power of crowdsourcing, students can help scientists explore deep space, find life on the ocean floor and be part of efforts to save critically endangered condors in California while also participating in some amazing inquiry-based learning.
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A Quick Look
The below video gives a quick summary of just one of the many Zooniverse projects. The best way to really get a feel though is to just dive in. It takes only a few seconds to get started, so try taking a quick trip to the Serengeti to see how powerful Zooniverse can be.
The Penguin Watch project is one of my favorites and it’s an excellent one to start on. Students will annotate images of wildlife in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean to help tag and monitor penguin populations. The data students contribute then goes on to help scientists understand the lives of the penguins and their environment.
The Operation War Diary project follows the stories of the British Army on the Western Front during the First World War through 1.5 million pages of unit war diaries. By annotating and tagging entries, students will get a feel for life during war as well as playing an integral role in restoring these historic texts.
In the Cyclone Center project students can help Scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center decipher the huge amounts of data collected on tropical cyclones over the last 30 years. By recognizing and marking patterns in storm imagery students will contribute to the ongoing effort to to further understand and predict tropical storms.
This Worm Watch Lab project is a lot of fun as students are tasked with watching short videos where they must spot which worms lay eggs. By tagging these events in real genetic data, students can help scientists better understand how our genes work.
In the Asteroid Zoo project, students will scan our solar system for asteroids using images from the Catalina Sky Survey. As well as seeing amazing images from the far reaches of space, each contribution will play a part in helping protect the Earth from potential future collisions.
Links and Next Steps
- ZooTeach – Lesson plans and materials for use with Zooniverse projects
- Zooniverse Education – Further teaching resources aligned to Zooniverse
- The art of crowdsourcing – Informational video (2 min) for the Old Weather project
- Zooniverse Live – See real time data from contributors worldwide
- How to Discover a Planet from Your Sofa – TED Talk (13 min) on Zooniverse
- Thoughts from the Classroom – Student and teacher thoughts on Zooniverse
- Citizen Science in The Zooniverse – Hangout for TeachMeet NJ (18 min)
- Explore the Zooniverse with astrophysicist Chris Lintott – Video (32 min)
- Tomnod – Crowdsourcing site for exploring the Earth and solving real-world problems
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, ChadCooperPhotos.