Saturday, February 18, 2012

Growing the ranks of citizen scientists - Scistarter, CERN@School

Yesterday afternoon at Citizen Cyberscience Summit, I found at how the grassroots movement is developing, and gained some insight into some of the resources and tools available. 

We heard from Darlene Cavalier, who is an advocate for science literacy, and is encouraging citizen scientists enter discussions relating to scientific policy in the US. She also started up the website to help people with no hard academic background to participate in science at a recreational level.
Scistarter offers a place to go not only for citizen scientists, but also for those interested in setting up a Citizen Science project. You can find tools for developing data collection, sorting and visualisation, as well as ideas for building communities and designing a website. Scistarter has an impressive media partner - Discover magazine. Darlene is a senior advisor to the magazine. Adding you project to the scistarter Global project finder promises to connect you to our community of doers! 

Demonstrating that you really don’t have to have in higher education to contribute to Citizen Science were A-level students, Louis Wilson and Chris Lundy (from Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Kent), who described a project that started from a school trip to CERN. CERN@School gives students an opportunity to use chips (named Medipix) from the Large Hadron Collider.  Eleven schools in the Kent area are now using these chips to gather data about secondary cosmic rays in the atmosphere, and Queen Mary University’s GridPP project is helping them to process the data. 

Chris and Louis are in the process of designing an app for smartphones (with smaller mega-chips e.g. USB stick in size) and are hoping to collaborate with application software developers at the Summit.

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