Getting Started (5 min)
Think-Pair-Share: Solving problems with reCAPTCHA
- Show an image of a reCAPTCHA (by visiting a website that employs this technology or from an image search).
- Direct students to describe for their elbow partner when and where they have encountered this on the web and discuss why it is used. Discuss how quickly a program can be distributed online and make a difference to many people across the world.
- As a class, view the video Fight Spam and Save Shakespeare and discuss:
- What two problems are being solved with reCAPTCHA?
- How has reCaptcha used the aggregate computing power of millions of people to solve problems in digitizing old books?
- Have you heard of other aggregate solutions to problems that are currently being solved?
- Are there other problems you can think of that a strategy of capturing the work of millions of people and their computers might be able to solve?
Guided Activities (40 min)
Part 1 (10 min) - Learn about tracking birds with citizen science
- As a class, read the article Crowdsourcing, For the Birds
- Optional website and videos on crowdsourcing:
Part 2 (15 min) - Participate in citizen science
- Direct students to the Zooniverse website: https://www.zooniverse.org/#/projects
- Allow students to participate several times. Encourage them to pick a different project each time.
- As a class, briefly discuss how the student responses will help scientists.
- Discuss with the class the components of citizen science.
- A problem to be solved. (How can a computer be used to identify objects? How can a program learn about those objects?)
- A way for people to participate. (Create data for identifying objects, ex: Plankton)
- A website or app to aggregate data. (The Zooniverse website)
- A way to turn the data into knowledge. (Students can brainstorm possible algorithms to handle the data captured.)
- Ask students if they know of, or can find, other citizen science projects (an Internet search will turn up dozens, possibly some in your area).
- Describe how effective collaboration can be with people you do not even see and the exponential improvement of performance when an entire crowd shares the work.
- Optional: have students work for 5 minutes in a group to identify the components of a selected citizen science project. Have each group share their ideas with the class.
- Engage students in a discussion of problems that they think a citizen science project could address using computers to harness the power of data from many individuals.
Part 3 (15 min) - Guessing what you are thinking
Play an on-line game which aggregates human information. (Direct students to Akinator.com or 20Q. If these website do not work on student computer, teacher can display the website and students participate as a whole class.)
- Discuss how the game acts intelligently.
- Have students work in small groups to devise a method to collect data to teach a computer how to play 20 questions. Each group should share their ideas.
Wrap Up (5 min)
In their journals, have students describe a mobile app that uses multiple user input to collect data. Emphasize data collection that would be beneficial to high school students.
Optional Additional Activities
Add knowledge to Wikipedia
The purpose of this activity is for students to contribute their knowledge to the aggregated collection of knowledge known as "Wikipedia."
- Divide the class into teams of two.
- Instruct students to think of topics they have some knowledge of: a sport, music, their community, a hobby, or other expertise. Direct them to explore the content on that topic on Wikipedia.
- Each team should work independently to learn how to modify a Wikipedia page and then add some content to the topic. Encourage students to be independent learners by working to learn how to make edits with as little help as possible from the teacher.
- At the end of class summarize student learning through a discussion or by summarizing the steps of the Wikipedia editing process in their journals. Additionally, students could collaboratively write a paragraph about how they worked together to complete the task.
Learn about Kickstarter
- Direct students to research Kickstarter.com. Ask them to choose a current project that they think is worthy of funding and justify that judgment. Suggest that the students think of a project that they would like to see as a good candidate for Kickstarter.
Learn about Waze
Use Search Trends as Predictors
- Ask students to learn about how search trends can be used as predictors. They should share what they learned with the class by any creative means.
More Citizen Science
- Find a citizen science project that is of interest to you. Participate in the project. Report your experiences in any creative format: a report, a diorama, a website, video, etc.
"Picture Stitching" is the practice of blending hundreds of photos to create one huge detailed picture.
- Investigate the stitched photo of the 365-gigapixel image of Mont Blanc that was created by stitching together 70,000 images http://www.in2white.com/# .