Service…Online? :)

Well, here we are again.

Another remote semester has been completed for The University of Southern Mississippi students and I could not be happier about it. This last year of remote learning has been full of trials and tribulations, but I feel as if it has shown a lot of the resilience we share as students.

Most of my service this year has resembled that of last year’s. Due to the ongoing pandemic, I was still restricted inside of my home for safety precautions. Yet, I decided to continue using the Zooniverse platform in order to still contribute somewhere in this world. Last semester I participated with an organization named “Every Name Counts” in which you listed the names and information of Holocaust survivors and victims. I contemplated just continuing my service hours with that organization because of how much I enjoyed the history behind it. Instead, I chose to find another organization on Zooniverse in order to branch out.

So, this semester I spent some time contributing to a project known as “Star Notes.” This project was also another transcription service, just like “Every Name Counts.” Instead, I was transcribing astronomy information from the work of women astronomers. Now, of course I was interested in contributing to this project because I love learning about astronomy. (This would be the perfect time to go listen to “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar ft. SZA if I were you. Just a suggestion.) As well, I also enjoy the aspects of history where women are involved, and their contributions are discussed. I always loved the movie Hidden Figures, so anything dealing with astronomy and women’s history is a win in my book.

Image from Zooniverse “Star Notes” About page

I was required to transcribed handwritten notes of early women astronomers that were linked to discovering aspects about the universe. I was required to identify and copy these plate notes for them to be compiled and linked back to their original source material. I did this for about 30 minutes every two days out of the semester calendar. I find it to be very interesting how time consuming it can be to transcribe these star notes sometimes. Some of the images that would pop up would appear in a disheveled form, or some of the text would not always be so visible. In cases like that, I would just try my best to collect the information that was legible to contribute to this study.

I’m really thankful to know about websites like Zooniverse because of our wonderful Luckyday staff. If it weren’t for Zooniverse, students like myself would have had a difficult time trying to find service hours this semester. I anticipate being able to serve in person for the fall. I truly hope everyone has a wonderful summer and rocks their finals!

Written by Lorilynn Thigpen, Luckyday Scholar, who recently completed her second year at Southern Miss. She is majoring in psychology.

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