Citizen Science in action: NASA Space Apps Challenge

May 14, 2012 by  

Taking part in the 2012 NASA Space Apps Challenge

NASA SpaceApps Challenge 2012 Briefing

 Within the Public Goods Lab  here at Proboscis we have been exploring a number of themes we are tying together, one of which is a strong interest in the practice and production of ‘citizen science’. We like getting hands on and are always keen to learn from exitisting models and projects to understand the issues and possible modes and obstacles to production and  delivery and so it makes a lot of sense for us to participate in projects that we can learn from.

To this end in late April I spent a fun weekend with my friend James from Imaginals and other space-fanatics at ISIC, the International Space Innovation Centre in Harwell, Oxford which played host to an extraordinary and fun challenge:

We joined the Oxford group of the NASA Space Apps Challenge; a brilliant event that was hosted in 25 cities around the globe (e.g. San Francisco, Tokyo, Melbourne, Canberra, Jakarta, Exeter; Nairobi, Sao Paulo, Santo Domingo and McMurdo Station, Antarctica….) drawing a crowd of 2000+ participants interested in creating ‘Apps’ relating to NASA space science under a number of possible themes; e.g. Software, Open Hardware, Citizen Science and Data Visualization.

Inspiring Space Science

The NASA Space Apps challenge was conceived as part of a much larger  and very interesting ongoing US and global agenda in open government via the  Open Government Partnership. The US Open Government Initiative is translating directly into Open Government activities at NASA; a programme to generate more interest in, access to and popularise ideas around NASA’s space science programme and enhance public visibility.

StrangeDesk Citizen Science Ideas

Our impromptu team (primarily assembled on the workshop weekend itself) consisted  -Emal, Peter, James and myself – joined up because of our mutual interest in the theme of “Mobile Environment Capture”. We clubbed together with a hope of coming up with something that would relate it to citizen science and in particular exploring participatory models and ideas.

With lots of ideas being thrown around the table on the Saturday – for while we were  joined by from ESA scientists  who gave us some great insights – we decided to produce an idea that is looking to capture the excitement of engaging with space science from the ground by connecting citizen scientists through to the professional science community via our concept ‘StrangeDesk’. It’s our way to capture, share and aggregate odd, out of the ordinary and potentially  important environmental events and connect them through the social web with the wider world including the professional science community to use and elaborate upon.

redod something strange!

Strangedesk Start Page

Excitingly, in the weekend competition we must have hit some kind of nerve with the concept as we were lucky enough to win second prize in the local Oxford selections and are now moving into the second round with our idea.

Please check out our promo video we produced with the great help from Izzy Way at Imaginals for the second round of the competition on vimeo: StrangeDesk Promo

Support us by voting for it on the Talenthouse competion web site! and watch this space for any further news on this initiative!

You can also check out the twitter feed on the SpaceApps challlenge on twitter under #SpaceApps

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