Galaxy Zoo

On this blog I rarely write about the educational web sites that I visit or am told about or I simply fall over … I usually keep these bits of information over in the ‘News’ section of the ictopus web site.

Ictopus (ICT online primary user support) is a support service for primary education. Anyone can sign up for the service (free of charge) and will then receive each week a six page printable magazine and a set of activity suggestions. There will also be a regular newsletter or e-bulletin. These resources (and more) will be archived on the ictopus website where there will also be access to classroom activities and a variety of other resources and projects. Ictopus builds on the Becta Direct2U service and also the legacy of MAPE (Micros and Primary Education).

… but today is an exception because I want to draw attention to the fact that there is an opportunity that has arisen for everyone to do some real science. Galaxy Zoo 2 has recently been launched to continue the categorisation of the millions of galaxies out in space.

This is what is said about the project and the reason why I feel it is so exciting and why, if I had a class at the moment, I would be talking to my children/students about it. I have already pointed it out to my PGCE students.

The Galaxy Zoo files contain almost a quarter of a million galaxies which have been imaged with a camera attached to a robotic telescope (the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, no less). In order to understand how these galaxies — and our own — formed, we need your help to classify them according to their shapes — a task at which your brain is better than even the fastest computer.

More than 150,000 people have taken part in Galaxy Zoo so far, producing a wealth of valuable data and sending telescopes on Earth and in space chasing after their discoveries. Zoo 2 focuses on the nearest, brightest and most beautiful galaxies, so to begin exploring the Universe, click the ‘How To Take Part’ link above, or read ‘The Story So Far’ to find out what Galaxy Zoo has achieved to date.

This is science for real and might, for some, open the doorway to a facination that will last and last.

PS … miles away but on a similar ‘mind stream’ for me it was great to listen and watch Terry Pratchett talking about and receiving his knighthood from the Queen (as reported by the BBC today)

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