ENTRIES TAGGED "citizen science"

White House Science Fair praises future scientists and makers

If we want kids to aspire to become scientists and technologists, celebrate academic achievement like athletics and celebrity.

There are few ways to better judge a nation’s character than to look at how its children are educated. What values do their parents, teachers and mentors demonstrate? What accomplishments are celebrated? In a world where championship sports teams are idolized and superstar athletes are feted by the media, it was gratifying to see science, students and teachers get their moment in the sun at the White House last week.

“…one of the things that I’m concerned about is that, as a culture, we’re great consumers of technology, but we’re not always properly respecting the people who are in the labs and behind the scenes creating the stuff that we now take for granted,” said President Barack Obama, “and we’ve got to give the millions of Americans who work in science and technology not only the kind of respect they deserve but also new ways to engage young people.”

President Obama at White House Science Fair

President Barack Obama talks with Evan Jackson, 10, Alec Jackson, 8, and Caleb Robinson, 8, from McDonough, Ga., at the 2013 White House Science Fair in the State Dining Room. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

An increasingly fierce global competition for talent and natural resources has put a premium on developing scientists and engineers in the nation’s schools. (On that count, last week, the President announced a plan to promote careers in the sciences and expand federal and private-sector initiatives to encourage students to study STEM.

“America has always been about discovery, and invention, and engineering, and science and evidence,” said the President, last week. “That’s who we are. That’s in our DNA. That’s how this country became the greatest economic power in the history of the world. That’s how we’re able to provide so many contributions to people all around the world with our scientific and medical and technological discoveries.”

Read more…

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NASA launches second International Space Apps Challenge

In 2013, developers will once again boldly contribute code to projects where their code has never gone before.

From April 20 to April 21, on Earth Day, the second international Space Apps Challenge will invite developers on all seven continents to the bridge to contribute code to NASA projects.

space app challenge

Given longstanding concerns about the sustainability of apps contests, I was curious about NASA’s thinking behind launching this challenge. When I asked NASA’s open government team about the work, I immediately heard back from Nick Skytland (@Skytland), who heads up NASA’s open innovation team.

“The International Space Apps Challenge was a different approach from other federal government ‘app contests’ held before,” replied Skytland, via email.

“Instead of incentivizing technology development through open data and a prize purse, we sought to create a unique platform for international technological cooperation though a weekend-long event hosted in multiple locations across the world. We didn’t just focus on developing software apps, but actually included open hardware, citizen science, and data visualization as well.”

Aspects of that answer will please many open data advocates, like Clay Johnson or David Eaves. When Eaves recently looked at apps contests, in the context of his work on Open Data Day (coming up on February 23rd), he emphasized the importance of events that build community and applications that meet the needs of citizens or respond to business demand.

The rest of my email interview with Skytland follows. Read more…

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Four short links: 31 August 2012

Four short links: 31 August 2012

Code Typing Tutor,

  1. typing.io — a typing tutor for code.
  2. Sheep to Warn Shepherds of Wolf Attack by SMSaround 10 sheep were each equipped with a heart monitor before being targeted by a pair of Wolfdogs—both of which were muzzled. (via Beta Knowledge)
    You Have a New Follower
  3. New Species Found on Flickr (NPR) — Guek had noticed the insect while hiking the jungles of Malaysia, taken the photos, and then watched it fly away. I just love the idea of entomologists bringing up richly-coloured hi-res shots of insects from Flickr. Can’t figure out whether to parody as porn fetish or as if they were using movie tech (“can we enhance that?”)
  4. Position Correcting Tools for 2D Digital Fabricationin our approach, the user coarsely positions a frame containing the tool in an approximation of the desired path, while the device tracks the frame’s location and adjusts the position of the tool within the frame to correct the user’s positioning error in real time. Because the automatic positioning need only cover the range of the human’s positioning error, this frame can be small and inexpensive, and because the human has unlimited range, such a frame can be used to precisely position tools over an unlimited range.
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Four short links: 20 March 2012

Four short links: 20 March 2012

jQuery Video Plugin, Open Source Data View, QR Insanity, and Measuring Citizen Science

  1. jPlayer — jQuery plugin for audio and video in HTML5. Dual-licensed MIT and GPL.
  2. Tesseract (Github) — Square has open sourced (Apache license) their Javascript library for filtering large multidimensional datasets in the browser. Tesseract supports extremely fast (<30ms) interaction with coordinated views, even with datasets containing a million or more records; we built it to power analytics for Square Register, allowing merchants to slice and dice their payment history fluidly.
  3. QR Code MadnessI recently received an MMS (multimedia text message) with a picture to a QR code. First, it’s bad enough advertising agencies still randomly text people ads. Second, what am I supposed to scan that with? My eyes? But check out the photo for maximum silliness.
  4. Galaxy Zoo: Crowdsourcing Citizen Scientists (Guardian) — yes, the headline is a collection of buzzwords but the Galaxy Zoo project remains fantastic. My eye was caught by Working 12 hours a day non-stop for a week, [Kevin] Schawinski had managed the not inconsiderable task of detailing the characteristics of 50,000 galaxies. He needed a pint. [... they built Galaxy Zoo in a day of two ...] Within 24 hours of it being announced on Lintott’s website, Galaxy Zoo was receiving 70,000 classifications an hour. They still measure their hit-rate in “Kevin weeks” – a unit of 50,000. “Soon after that we were doing many Kevin weeks per hour,” Schawinski says. (via Roger Dennis)
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Four short links: 15 November 2011

Four short links: 15 November 2011

Internet Asthma Care, C Fulltext, Citizen Science, and Mozilla

  1. Cost-Effectiveness of Internet-Based Self-Management Compared with Usual Care in Asthma (PLoSone) — Internet-based self-management of asthma can be as effective as current asthma care and costs are similar.
  2. Apache Lucy full-text search engine library written in C and targeted at dynamic languages. It is a “loose C” port of Apache Lucene™, a search engine library for Java.
  3. The Near Future of Citizen Science (Fiona Romeo) — near future of science is all about honing the division of labour between professionals, amateurs and bots. See Bryce’s bionic software riff. (via Matt Jones)
  4. Microsoft’s Patent Claims Against Android (Groklaw) — behold, citizen, the formidable might of Microsoft’s patents and how they justify a royalty from every Android device equal to that which you would owe if you built a Windows Mobile device: These Microsoft patents can be divided into several basic categories: (1) the ‘372 and ‘780 patents relate to web browsers; (2) the ‘551 and ‘233 patents relate to electronic document annotation and highlighting; (3) the ‘522 patent relates to resources provided by operating systems; (4) the ‘517 and ‘352 patents deal with compatibility with file names once employed by old, unused, and outmoded operating systems; (5) the ‘536 and ‘853 patents relate to simulating mouse inputs using non-mouse devices; and (6) the ‘913 patent relates to storing input/output access factors in a shared data structure. A shabby display of patent menacing.
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