Newsletter #1, June 2018

Yesterday we sent out an email newsletter to all our volunteers.  Here is that newsletter:

Hello, fellow Zooniverse members,

The team working on the Steelpan Vibrations has started to pick up this project again and we are happy to keep you all updated.  A biography of each of the team members can be found on the blog.  Now let’s get on to the details.


We are still collecting classifications of our high-speed electronic speckle pattern interferometry images.  So far, we have around 25,000 classifications from the Zooniverse community, but we have set a goal to get up to 100,000 by the end of the summer!  The team plans to get this done by utilizing social media in an attempt to reach a wider audience.

You might be asking: What can I do to help?  One big goal we set for ourselves is to get more people interested in our project.  So, tell your family, your friends, anyone you can think of about our page on Zooniverse as well as other Zooniverse projects to get them more involved with this online community.  This tactic can improve not only our project but many others.


We have recently taken an interest in a machine-learning algorithm that will make use of your classifications.  Be looking for more information on this coming over the summer.

We are also in the process of recruiting talk moderators.  We have messaged the most active people on our project and asked them to moderate our talk pages.  If you have an interest, feel free to message us and we will happily consider your role as a moderator.

That is all the news we have for now.

Thank you for being a volunteer for Steelpan Vibrations!


Facebook Page For our Project

Hello volunteers and followers of Steelpan Vibrations,

We have recently created a Facebook page which we have done in hopes to reach out a more general audience.  Give us a like and share our page to spread the news.  We are still looking for lots of volunteers to give us an abundance of classifications!

Summer research team introductions – Part 2

Hello.  My name is Keanu Vasquez and I am currently interning under Professor Morrison for the Steel Pan Vibrations project.  I am currently in pursuit of an electrical engineering degree which may sound a bit off for this research project, but I personally enjoy learning and engaging in just about any topic in the field of physics. For this steelpan vibrations project, I am very interested in having a Machine Learning AI to analyze our data and having the volunteers look at this.  That way, our data can be collected even faster, and, in the process, we can test how effecting using an AI is to analyze our data.  As of right now, I oversee the promotion of the project to get more of the Zooniverse community and even more communities to help us out with classifying our images.  I look forward to working on this project this summer and I hope that I can engage the team and the community to successfully further progress in this project!

Summer research team introductions – Part 1

My name is Matthew Lange and I am a student at Joliet Junior College, with an interest in physics and mathematics. I am majoring in Computer Science, and I plan to transfer to the University of Illinois at Chicago next spring. In my free time, I like to play computer games, but I also like to play guitar. I believe that this project will afford me the ability to strengthen my programming skills, and to continue learning about the vast world of physics. I look forward to working on this project with everyone over the Summer!

Updates from the first half of 2018

Hey Steelpan Vibrations volunteers,

We wanted to share with you some updates from the past few months of our project. The primary update is that we wanted to bring to your attention a recent paper that we published in the Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics:

Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics 2017 31:1

You can directly download the article here if you prefer: POMA article by Garcia and Morrison

Our second update is that we are gearing up for our Summer research session with a fresh group of students coming on to the project.  We’re really excited to see what will come of the project, and we hope that you will watch along with us, and help us classify all of our project images.

Thanks for all the work you do to help us understand why steelpans sound the way they do!

Validating Citizen Science for our Research: We’re in the Right Place

We recently got the chance to share with the Acoustical Society of America how our volunteers are doing and answering the question: can citizen science effectively help us in our research?

We took some of the subject frames that have almost been completed. The classifications that our volunteers provided were all averaged to synthesize the completed frame. These aggregated frames are later strung together to make the desired mapping of the vibrating steelpan. To test if these results were sufficient, they were compared to the same frame but completed by the research team. Here is what the side by side comparison looks like.

The ellipses here are the indicated antinode regions and in the center of these ellipses is the averaged number of frames. The left column is the aggregated frames using the classifications from the volunteers and the right column is the research team’s answer for the same frame. As you can see the location and size of these antinodes are almost identical, and the reported fringe count is satisfactory between the volunteers and research team.

These similarities suggest that the citizen science approach is an accurate way to analyze the data. So keep up this great work everybody and invite some friends because it is only a matter of time until we can make some interesting discoveries together.

1,000 Thank-yous!!!

Screenshot 2017-09-26 21.13.59

We’re so thrilled to see our 1,000th volunteer registered tonight! We are so thankful for all the classifications that you have made to help us with our project.

Although there is nothing particularly significant about the round number 1000, it does make the math a little easier to understand: we have 1000 volunteers and a total of 13,557 classifications made – so on average our volunteers are make 13.557 classifications.

We estimate that each classification takes about a minute to complete – do you have 15 minutes to spare on doing science with us?

Thank you!!

Some classification statistics


Last week we looked a little bit at the classification data to see what our volunteers have been doing to help us get through all the images we need examined. The figure above is a histogram of the volunteers and the classifications they have completed.

You can see that over all users, the average number of classifications done was was about 6.5 per user. As of last week there were over 1700 users who had done classifications, although that does not account for the same volunteer working sometimes logged in and sometimes not logged in, or any other case where the same person shows up as multiple users. (We believe those cases are rare.)

As is typical with citizen science project like this, there are a large number of volunteers who try one or a few images and then never come back. The next graph shows the statistics for users who have done 5 or more classifications for us.


As you can see, there were 547 users who, on average, did almost 17 classifications each! We are SO thankful for ALL our awesome volunteers, but these are the users who are truly pushing this project forward. These users make up 30% of all visitors to our project, but account for 79% of all the classifications!

If you are one of the 30% of users, THANK YOU.  Keep up the great work!

We’re looking for more users to join the ranks of the super-classifiers.  Please consider sharing this project with a friend or two and working with them in person for a bit.

Every little bit helps, even 17 classifcations a day.  They really add up!


Show a friend how you do science!

Last night I was at our local makerspace with another member who wanted to work on making classifications.  We sat across from each other chatting while making progress on the project: in about 1.5 hours, we had combined to do 125 classifications.  It was a very relaxing way to spend the evening yet also very productive!

If you have a chance this weekend, consider sharing this project with a friend or relative. Show them how you are contributing to our scientific research and ask them to be a part of it. Many people find that it is easier to get excited about doing citizen science if they are shown how by someone already participating.

How many registered volunteers could we reach by Monday? 1000? 1100? 1200?? Help us out by sharing our project not just online, but in person with the people you are closest to!

And if you are not already making classifications, grab a buddy and try to figure it out together.  Make sure to tag some of your favorite images and talk about it on the Talk pages.

Thank you for doing science with us!