Web Developer

Ed Paget (Adler Planetarium)

After it’s launch in 2007 a deeply engaged community of Galaxy Zoo volunteers began to emerge in the forums and it became evident that many of them were interested in participating to a greater level than offered by the standard classification interface.

In the past volunteers sought SkyServer for more data, allowing them to delve more deeply into the galaxy objects they were classifying, but the barrier to entry was high and only the most dedicated of volunteers had the time and ability to participate. To enable volunteers to more easily conduct independent research, the Zooniverse is developing a collection of tools to facilitate data exploration.

This collection of tools began with Talk, a discussion tool that allows volunteers to engage in conversations about specific objects or collections of objects. More recently ZooTools, a platform containing a collection of tools, has been developed (http://tools.zooniverse.org/). Within the platform, volunteers may import their curated collections from Talk, and more easily access metadata from SkyServer. ZooTools provides a suite of plotting tools, as well as tools tailored for Galaxy Zoo, Snapshot Serengeti, and Space Warps.

Utilizing much of the same technology, the Zooniverse has also released The Navigator, an interactive classroom tool. Students can classify galaxies as a classroom activity and explore galaxy characteristics together. It also demonstrates to students the basics of Zooniverse’s crowdsourcing model, by allowing them to compare their classifications to the community as a whole. While The Navigator was designed with a high school audience in mind, it’s functionality is applicable for basic astronomy teaching at a university level, with the ZooTools making an ideal follow up for more advanced projects.

This workshop will demonstrate the tools themselves as well as discussing opportunities for using them for education and outreach purposes. Participants are invited to bring their laptops and actively take part.

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