For a while now, Fraser and I, and Fraser and Phil, and the three of us together have randomly batted around the idea of taking what we do to a whole new level: To take the best lessons from Khan Academy, to take what we know about online publishing, and to take all the best of IYA and step up and do things at a new level. We’ve talked about writing books, and launching a satellite, and taking citizen science from just crowd sourced to open source. We’ve done a lot of talking and thinking, and, well, plotting.
CosmoQuest is how we start to make our vision a reality.
This community website is going to bring together all the components of a research learning environment (aka grad school), from content in the form of classes, resources, and a blog, to research in the form of citizen science, to social engagement through a forum, social media, and real world activities.
We are partnering directly with science missions to develop citizen science projects that meet the needs of the communities most invested in seeing science come out of their data. We’re working with Mercury MESSENGER, the Dawn Mission, LRO, and Space Telescope Science Institute to build a series of projects that map the surfaces of rocky worlds and explore the atmospheres of planets and small bodies the solar system over. We are also working on building a partnership with GLOBE at Night, so that we can drive our users to their project, and so that we can provide an ongoing community for their participants in the lulls between Dark Skies measurements.
We want to make sure our community members have the chance to understand what they are contributing to, and we want teachers and amateurs doing EPO to receive the professional development they need. Toward this end, we’ll be providing for free, online lectures and short online courses related to each project that are geared at teaching the science behind the citizen science projects. We’re also partnering with GTTP to do global teacher training, and we’ll be providing training for the Night Sky Network and Astronomers without Borders whenever we can – one of our goals is to reach out to amateurs and get them the materials and training needed to use CosmoQuest in their outreach.
We’ll also have a forum and blog that together allow us to keep everyone up to date, while enabling mentoring, asking questions, providing feedback, and just talking. We’ll maintain a community calendar, and a group on Meetup to help get people meeting face-to-face.
And we will provide resources. We want teachers to easily get everything they need to teach the science topics of our citizen science in their classrooms. To this end, we’re developing kits that include hands on activities, in many cases incorporating the best of Hands on Universe, GTTP, and Universal Awareness side by side with our own citizen science projects.
We also want users who just want to dig into the data to know how to do it, and we’re talking with Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society to create an Image Miner’s Codex.
And for those who just want to learn it all, we’re going to be indexing in the relevant content from Astronomy Cast, Universe Today, and 365 Days of Astronomy.
Our goal is to create a community of people bent on together helping scientists do science; a community of people who can explain why what they do matters, and what questions they are helping to answer. We want to create a community, and here is where I invite all of you to be a part of what we’re doing. The site will launch January 1, and we are working today to build calendars of events to send people to, collections of resources to expose people to, and networks of people that we can help do what they do better through the resources we’ll be creating. You can guide us – help us build this to meet your needs. Use the comments below to tell what you think, and what you want this to be.