Session Type

Poster

Start Date

6-7-2011 5:30 PM

Keywords

astronomy, citizen science, science literacy, public outreach

Primary Threads

Teaching and Learning Science

Abstract

Astronomy is a popular topic for non-science students taking a required science course; at our university, about 1500 students take such courses each year. Most of the assignments in our General Astronomy course are focused on assisting students to understand the many unfamiliar concepts introduced in the course. However, we also wanted to give students a chance to experience some astronomical research, and in doing so, encourage an interest in participating in science outside of the course context.

Building on the general public interest in astronomy, the "Zooniverse project" aims to advance astronomical research through online "citizen science" projects. These typically involve sifting through a huge amount of digital data that are made available online and using the pattern-recognition abilities of the human brain to do something not easily achievable with a computer algorithm. Such projects require a minimal amount of training and no scientific background. Thousands of people all over the world have participated in these projects, and we have designed several course assignments which ask students to participate, answer some straightforward questions based on the training information, and provide proof of their participation.

The poster will provide some details about the assignment implementation, quantitative information concerning student participation and some anecdotal comments from students on the experience.


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Jul 6th, 5:30 PM

"Citizen science" projects for non-science astronomy students

Astronomy is a popular topic for non-science students taking a required science course; at our university, about 1500 students take such courses each year. Most of the assignments in our General Astronomy course are focused on assisting students to understand the many unfamiliar concepts introduced in the course. However, we also wanted to give students a chance to experience some astronomical research, and in doing so, encourage an interest in participating in science outside of the course context.

Building on the general public interest in astronomy, the "Zooniverse project" aims to advance astronomical research through online "citizen science" projects. These typically involve sifting through a huge amount of digital data that are made available online and using the pattern-recognition abilities of the human brain to do something not easily achievable with a computer algorithm. Such projects require a minimal amount of training and no scientific background. Thousands of people all over the world have participated in these projects, and we have designed several course assignments which ask students to participate, answer some straightforward questions based on the training information, and provide proof of their participation.

The poster will provide some details about the assignment implementation, quantitative information concerning student participation and some anecdotal comments from students on the experience.