Tonight (1 March) is the night of the full moon, and this post is just a preliminary note on something I’m thinking about for the future.
One way to bring people together is to give them projects they can work on jointly over a long period of time. They don’t have to be face-to-face projects — in the Internet age, there are many wonderful online projects that people can join and work on collaboratively. And working on joint projects is a valuable educational experience for students of all ages.
I’m going to be putting together a list of a few such projects that I hope future members of the River Houses network (when it develops) will be able to work on together. The list will include a variety of things, to appeal to different interests. Here are three I know I’ll be including — two that involve using the idle time on your computer to assist with scientific calculations, and one involving natural history observations:
- 🌌 Einstein@Home (einsteinathome.org) — A project to search for gravitational waves and pulsars in deep space.
- 👽 SETI@Home (setiathome.berkeley.edu) — A project to search for radio signals from extraterrestrial civilizations. (Really!)
- 🦆 eBird (ebird.org) — A project to map bird observations in your homeschool backyard and around the world.
Of these initial three, the eBird project is suitable for people of all ages — even small children can join in the count of birds at the backyard feeder. The other two are more advanced, suitable for high school students interested in computers, science, and astronomy (and their parents, too, of course). Many of the other group projects I have in mind will cater to middle and high school aged students as well. You can join any of the above three projects yourself right now, as an independent participant, if you wish.
I’ve had my own computer signed up to work on the SETI@Home project for a long time, and I’ve recently created a River Houses team page (#208851) for future use. There isn’t much there at this point, and it’s not especially well designed from the point of view of a beginning student, but it’s a starting point from which to grow.
What does this have to do with the full moon? Well, there was a famous science-and-technology club in England in the late 1700s and early 1800s called the Lunar Society (because they met each month around the time of the full moon). They discussed current scientific developments, shared new research results, talked about new inventions, and generally had a grand old time.
I’m hoping that within the River Houses, we’ll be able to get homeschoolers participating in a number of these group research projects, and once a month (you know which day), we can have a kind of round-up of the things people have done. Imagine hundreds (thousands?) of homeschoolers across the country learning about and contributing to interesting research projects with their River House neighbors.
That’s a nice idea for the future. 😊