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Ecsite 2012 - Science Centers and Planetaria as Citizen Science Platforms


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The latest developments in technology are changing the way we handle and process scientific data. A vast number of people make use of online mediums like Wikipedia, facebook, twitter etc, which allow fast and easy access to all kinds of scientific information. As a lot of scientific databases are nowadays available online, the scientists are no longer the main information gatekeepers.

Making use of this data and media for education and dissemination of science is a key challenge for science centres in the near future.

Published in: Technology, Education
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Ecsite 2012 - Science Centers and Planetaria as Citizen Science Platforms

  1. 1. Science Centers and Planetaria as Citizen Science Platforms Wouter Schrier and Pedro RussoEU Universe Awareness / Leiden Observatory, the
  2. 2. Before: When you wanted to know about scientific topic: - Public science talks - Science Center - Library ­  Now: New (web) technologies: - Much more information available - Faster and more direct ways of finding scientific information, even the actual data! Scientists are no longer the information gatekeepers! IENCE OPE N SC­  People expect of Science Centers to use real scientific data in their products
  3. 3. Developed by SCISS Uniview – the Known Universe­  Interactive planetarium systems showing the known Universe as mapped through astronomical observations ­  Digital Universe Atlas: -  4-D map of the Universe maintained/updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History; -  Every object represented to scale and its correct measured location according to the best scientific research to-date. ­  Hardware ranges from single projector flat screens to fulldome projections ­  Currently more than 100 Uniview installations at science centers around the world: - American Museum of Natural History (New York, USA) - Haus der Astronomie (Heidelberg, Germany) - Denver Museum of Nature and Science (Colorado, USA) - ...
  4. 4. Developed by Microsoft World Wide Telescope­  Explore the Universe using imagery from the best ground and space-based telescopes ­  Web-based Visualization Software that enables computers to function as a virtual telescope at multiple wavelengths - Constructed from observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray observatory, Sloan Digital Sky Survey, … ­  Understand the cosmos through narrated guided tours from astronomers featuring interesting places/phenomena in the sky ­  Web/Desktop to Full Dome Planetarium capabilities
  5. 5. Developed by Leiden University Globe4D­  Interactive installation for immersive 4-dimensional globe viewing ­  Playful and interactive way of learning how global processes on Earth work and evolve(d) -  Continental drift, seasonal changes, global effects of changing the waterlevel, tsunamis/earthquakes, migration patterns, … ­  Globe4D installations in multiple Science Centers around the world: - Civel Experience Change Weather Center (Seoul, South-Korea) - Old Observatory Science Center (Leiden, the Netherlands) - Technoseum (Mannheim, Germany) - ...
  6. 6. “Citizen Science” ­  Let the public participate in the Scientific Process ­  Public can help systematically analyze/identify data-sets collected by scientists that computers cannot Help search in crowded radio bands for extraterrestrial in radio Go through Hubble archives in search ofsignals from space ‘hidden treasures’
  7. 7. Initiated by Adler Planetarium Galaxy Zoo­  Global Citizen Science project to classify galaxies according to their shape Science question: Do spiral galaxies have a preferred direction of rotation? ­  launched in July 2007, with a data set made up of a million galaxies imaged with the robotic telescope of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) - Within 24 hours, 70.000 classifications per hour received - More than 50 million classifications from 150.000 people were received in first year ­  Volunteers were asked to classify SDSS galaxies as belonging to one of six categories – elliptical , clockwise spiral , anticlockwise spiral, edge-on galaxy , star/ don’t know, merger
  8. 8. Galaxy Zoo question: Do spiral galaxies have a preferred direction of rotation? NO Other (unexpected) results: -  Much larger number of Blue Ellipticals than initially thought -  Astronomers previously thought that all red galaxies are elliptical RUE! NOT T -  Discovery of ‘Hanny’s Voorwerp’: gas-cloud heated by the jet fromOriginal Galaxy Zoo User Interface a black hole
  9. 9. Galaxy Zoo­  Very Successful! - 24 papers published - More than 250.000 people have taken part already - Currently at third iteration: Galaxy Zoo - Hubble Motivation? “Galaxy Zoo: exploring the Motivations of Citizen Science Volunteers ”, M. Raddick et al. 2009 -  Astronomy -  Working with real data -  Contributing to real science
  10. 10. Developed by Blackshore Creative Cerberus­  Goal: Use Citizen Science to create a surface map of Mars using data taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) ­  Web-based computer game ­  Serious gaming: “A game designed with educational purposes” - Motivation: * Game: Fun – achievements – ranking/scoring – social element * Education: Learn something about cartography/Mars – contribute to Science
  11. 11. Cerberus­  Prototype installed at Science Museum in Delft, the Netherlands ­  acebook version under development Screenshot of the prototype installation of Cerberus
  12. 12. Developed by Universe Awareness  Bring the news from Observatories/Science Centers to the public! -  Weekly breaking astronomy news update for children of 8+ -  Collaboration with ESO, NASA Chandra, ASTRON, Royal Astronomical Society, South- African Astronomical Observatory and Europlanet -  Share with children the excitement that the latest scientific discoveries bring -  Demonstrate that there is still much to learn about the Universe – research that they could contribute to in the future -  Translations in 15+ Languages
  13. 13. Conclusions ­  Science Centers can initiate and/or support Citizen Science projects e.g. Galaxy Zoo, other Zooniverse projects ­  Science Centers can act as a facilitator for Citizen Science e.g. Cerebrus ­  Citizen Science can act as a follow-up for Science Centers - Science Center excites the public, which then can stay active on the topic by getting involved in the Citizen Science project OR - Science Centers can act as a follow-up/physical ‘helpdesk’ for Citizen Science projects ­  By interacting with real scientific data, people…: … Feel closer to reality and by such feel more engaged in the actual scientific process … Get a much better understanding of the science and processes … Are much more motivated … Can actually contribute to the Scientific Process