People-Powered Science! Citizen Science in Bradford

On Saturday 9th March, the Constructing Scientific Communities Project visited the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, for a day of exploring animation and citizen science as part of British Science Week. There were talks, tours, and hands-on activities that brought together the worlds of art, science, and film (with a healthy dose of penguins!).

Project member, and now Head Curator of the Museum, Dr Geoff Belknap introduced visitors to ‘Science Gossip’, a project where volunteers help to tag and classify illustrations in Victorian natural science periodicals, including a range of flora and fauna. Professional Hollywood animator Sydney Padua wowed the crowds with live animation demonstrations that brought to life some of these beautiful creatures, including a rather charming penguin. (Readers of this blog may remember Sydney’s incredible snipe animation on twitter!).

Sydney demonstrating how to animate a penguin before the audience’s eyes! Photo credit: Nathan Buckley.

Visitors were able to learn more about getting involved and volunteering at the museum with Gin Jacobucci, and the day also featured further presentations about citizen science, from two Zooniverse projects based at the University of Oxford. Nora Eisner spoke about ‘Planet Hunters’, a project where members of the public help discover new planets and stars within our Solar System, and beyond. Fiona Jones introduced ‘Penguin Watch’, where volunteers help researchers track changes in penguin populations, by counting adults, chicks, and eggs in satellite images viewed online. Visitors were able to try their hands at counting and classifying with the help of the museum’s explainers—over 100 new classifications were made over the course of the day!

Alongside talks, visitors also got involved in hands-on animation activities, and enjoyed behind-the-scenes tours of the museum’s animation collections with the curatorial team.

Visitors getting hands-on during a collections tour, exploring how a zoetrope produces the illusion of moving images. Photo credit: Nathan Buckley.

A young visitor exploring animation and science at an interactive workshop. Photo credit: Nathan Buckley.

Visitors were delighted by the range of activities offered by ConSciCom and the museum, with lots of families planning to explore the Zooniverse further when they got back home. We were happy to share ConSciCom T-shirts and bags with their Science Gossip logo: wear them as proudly as we do!

Hannah posing in one of our beautiful ConSciCom T-shirts. Photo credit: Catherine Charlwood.

We would like to extend a massive thank you to Geoff, Sydney, Gin, Nora, Fiona, and all of the team at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford who made it such an inspiring day. To all the fantastic visitors who came to animate, classify, and explore citizen science – we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!