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The Zooniverse Is A People-Powered Research Platform That Is Made By Volunteers And Hundreds Of Thousands Of People Around The World

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    What is Zooniverse?

    The Zooniverse is a people-powered research platform that is made by volunteers and hundreds of thousands of people around the world. This platform allows people to come together to assist professional researchers. A great thing about Zooniverse is that anyone can be a researcher. People do not have to have a specific background or knowledge about anything. Zooniverse is designed for regular people, on their computer, at their own convenience. Important research is able to be completed by working together. By working together, volunteers and professionals are able to make real discoveries. Another great thing about Zooniverse, is how easy it is to get involved. Anyone that contributes to a Zooniverse project is considered a volunteer. Some of the ways to volunteer include: volunteering on a project, volunteering as a beta tester, and volunteering as a project moderator. The most common and easiest way of volunteering is by volunteering on a project. This can be done by going to the projects page and selecting one that interests you and working through it. Volunteering as a beta tester helps with testing projects before they are launched and doing volunteer work as a project moderator means that you would help moderate discussions and act as a point of contact for the project – this position is selected by the project owner. Whatever way you choose to volunteer, get out there and help researchers discover new, impressive discoveries. It is free, fun, easy to get started, and convenient.

    Explore the “Projects” Page

    The Zooniverse website currently has 93 projects available for volunteers to volunteer on. There are many types of disciplines available, so volunteers are able to pick something they are most interested in. The type of disciplines available include: arts, biology, climate, history, language, literature, medicine, nature, physics, social science, and space. While I was going through the projects page, I found several disciplines interesting. Nature was the first discipline that stood out to me – this is because I am someone who loves nature, and everything about it. However, I do have other interests as well. Medicine, biology, climate, and history were four others that I found interesting as well. After doing a few projects, I found that I really enjoyed “The Wilds’ Wildlife Watch,” which is where I was able to identify different types of animals in the wilderness. A similar one to this was “Snapshot Serengeti” and I really enjoyed also. Another project I explored and liked was called “Where Are My Body Organs?” I enjoyed this because I like anatomy and the human body. The last project, “The American Soldier,” was from the history discipline and I chose to do it because I also like history. Overall, I had a good experience while exploring the different projects and I cannot wait to explore more. What biology-related discipline projects interest me the most? I am very interested in all four of these biology-related disciplines and had no trouble finding some that I enjoyed volunteering for. Within the biology section, I chose to do “Rainforest Flowers,” which was to help tag tropical flowers. I think this project interested me because I used to pick out flowers with my grandmother and help her plant them. While exploring the climate section, I chose the “Mapping Change” project. I chose this because the description sounded interesting. I chose “Where Are My Body Organs” from the medicine section because I like anatomy and the human body. There were several projects that I chose in the nature section simply because I love nature. I love biology, so being to explore the biology-related disciplines was extremely fun for me.

    “Etch a Cell”

    Etch a Cell is a project about identifying the nuclear envelope within a cell. The nuclear envelope is the structure around the nucleus that separates DNA inside the nucleus from outside sources within the rest of the cell, such as the chemicals and reactions. An electron microscope is the instrument used within this project. This microscope differs from a traditional microscope because it uses a beam of electrons to create an of a specimen, whereas a traditional microscope uses light. Electron microscopes have the ability of much higher magnifications as well, which helps in seeing smaller objects and finer details. The Etch a Cell project has been available for over a year with its launch date being April 6, 2017. Since then, it has had 5,105 volunteers, with a total of 106,987 classifications completed. It is still available for volunteers because the project is only 21 percent complete. My duties as a volunteer consisted of viewing images of cells produced by an electron microscope, identifying the nucleus, and drawing a line along the nuclear envelope – this is called segmentation.

    “Bash the Bug”

    The project “Bash the Bug,” is a project that allows volunteers to help fight antibiotic resistance and tuberculosis. Launch date for this project was April 7, 2017 and is only 25 percent complete. So far, there are 8,505 registered volunteers and 108,798 classifications. Tuberculosis is a serious bacterial infectious disease that is one of the top ten causes of death worldwide. In order to detect tuberculosis in a patient, the current method can take up to a month, and this project wants to find ways to speed up the process to help cure patients at a faster rate. Thankfully, this is able to happen by gene sequencing. It is much faster and much cheaper than traditional lab-based methods. Using a genetic-based approach permits improvement of tuberculosis treatment and ways to decrease the spread of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. In order for volunteers to complete a classification, we are shown a series of cellular wells. The first two wells on top of the image contain no antibiotic, and the other wells below do contain antibiotics. It is the volunteer’s duty to look for signs of bacterial growth within each cell. After completing my classifications, I notice that the higher the dosages of antibiotics, the less bacterial growth there was.

    “Mapping Change”

    Today, on November 17, 2018 the project, “Mapping Change” is 58 percent complete. So far, there have been 3,752 volunteers and 87,593 classifications and the project began on September 20, 2016. The goal of this project is for volunteers to help identify specimens and map the distribution of animals, plants, and fungi. The data we gather as volunteers let researchers know where certain species have been. It also helps predict where they may end up in years to come. When it comes to the appropriate use of genus and species names, the first part of the name identifies the genus to which a specific species belongs to. The second parts are the specific name. The specific name helps identify the species within the genus. Scientific labeling is important so that a specimen is properly identified. While completing my classifications within this project, I found it interesting being able to look at the scientific labels and identify the specimens shown in the images. In order to complete a classification, I had to first identify if there were any secondary labels apart from the primary label. Second, I had to label the primary label. After that, I then had to locate the collectors name, number, and collecting date. I also had to identify the specimens name and where it was found. Define microbiology and describe how it is scientifically studied including the instruments used in its research: microbiology is defined as the branch of science that deals with microorganisms. Electron microscopes are used to identify and study bacteria and other microorganisms. Advanced computer software’s are also used in the research of microbiology to watch the growth of microorganisms found in samples. The science covers all microscopic forms of life, including bacteria, as mentioned before, and fungi, algae, viruses, and prions. Microbiology is a critical branch of science that helps us understand our environment because microorganisms are important, as they play a huge role in our everyday lives.

    Parasite Safari

    The primary goal of “Parasite Safari” is to examine whether or not watering holes in the African savanna are hotspots for disease transmission and if parasites are the cause of it. This research project identifies the ways in which water can change soil and vegetation. Once water affects soil and vegetation, it can also affect animal movement and the survival of parasites. I completed a total of 17 classifications. After completing my classifications, I noticed that the projects completion percentage went from 30% to 31%. It was great to see this. I think this is a great research project and I plan on going back and completing more classifications, so that I can help complete the research.

    Planktonportal

    The primary goal of the planktonportal project is to help scientists get a global understanding of the function and health of the ocean. I completed a total of 75 classifications. I found the classifications to be extremely fun and interesting. Why are plankton included in the topic of microbiology? Plankton is included in the study of microbiology because they are considered to be small and microscopic organisms. At first glance, I noticed the difference in the layout of this project page. I really enjoyed reading about the science behind plankton and why it is studied. It is studied simply because without it, the ocean would be empty of its organisms, as it is the beginning of the food chain. It was also fun being able to identify different types of plankton within the classifications.

    Define ecology and discuss biotic and abiotic components within ecosystems: ecology is best defined as the branch of biology that deals with the relations that organisms have with one another. It also deals with the physical surroundings of organisms as well. When it comes to an ecosystem, there are biotic and abiotic components that make it up. Biotic components in an ecosystem include those that are living. Examples of biotic components are plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria. Abiotic components are those that are non-living but help impact an ecosystem. Examples of abiotic components that help an ecosystem includes rain, wind, temperature, soil, and even sunlight. Both biotic and abiotic components are crucial to an ecosystem and are needed for proper functionality.

    The Plastic Tide

    The Plastic Tide was completed by the time I got to it, so I chose to do “TreeVersity” instead. The primary goal of TreeVersity is identify plant features and learn about botany – which is the study of plants. I completed a total of 27 classifications. How might plastics in the ocean affect the ecosystems there? Although I couldn’t work on classifications in The Plastic Tide project, I did read about it and watch the YouTube video. Plastics in oceans could potentially harm marine life, which would then in turn have a negative impact on the ecosystem. This is because marine life and oceans are what make up an ecosystem. I chose to do TreeVersity as a replacement for The Plastic Tide because it deals with identifying features of plants. I was also able to learn about botany, which is the study of plants. Botany is a huge part of ecology because plants are biotic components within ecosystems. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge nature fan, I love it, so that is another reason I chose this project. Also, because it was only 2% complete and I wanted to help with the completion of it. This project was fun, and I really enjoyed volunteering.

    Science Scribbler

    Science Scribbler was also completed when I got to it, so I decided to volunteer for “Floating Forests” to help complete it. The primary goal of this project is to identify Giant Kelp forests around the globe and understand how they change overtime. I completed a total of 50 classifications. Overall, I had a fun time volunteering in this project. I chose this project because it was in the biology and climate related sections. Both biology and climate deal with ecosystems and ecology, so I decided to do another project that also dealt with it. Kelp is important to marine life and the marine ecosystem. If you participated in any Zooniverse projects outside of those required, please list the titles of them here:

    • Rainforest Flowers
    • Invader ID
    • TreeVersity
    • Brain Match
    • Floating Forests
    • The American Soldier
    • Snapshot Serengeti
    • The Wild’s Wildlife Watch
    • Where are my body organs?

    Conclusion

    I am proud to say that I have completed a total of 250 classifications during my volunteer work for Zooniverse. Overall, this project offered a great experience for me. I had a fun time working with different classifications and learning about different types of research happening around the world. It was very interesting. I like that the Zooniverse website offers this opportunity for volunteers, it is a great, easy way to get research completed. Also, I could for sure see myself doing more volunteer work because I liked how it made me feel like a research scientist.

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