MYSCIENCE. The Consumerization of Science [updated]

This week at Microsoft Research’s 12th annual Faculty Summit, Project Hawaii student creations from over 20 universities will be on showcase.   Project Hawaii is an experimental program that provides students with tools, services, and equipment to create their own, cloud-enabled applications using Windows Azure (Microsoft’s platform-as-a-service) and Windows Phone 7. Project Hawaii began as a collaboration between Microsoft Research and university computer science/computer engineering programs to discover what is next and allow students to leverage the latest in modern computing to do so. The program will be expanding this academic year.

Citizen Science
Demonstrating the spirit and potential of the Project Hawaii program is MYSCIENCE, created by Stanford University Computer Science students. MYSCIENCE leverages the built-in sensors
on Windows Phone 7 to enable citizen scientists the ability capture real-world observations, collect and store their data in Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud, and perform analysis based on their findings in aggregate with other citizen scientists.

It is a novel implementation of cloud services, consumer mobile technologies, personal computing, and gaming. The MYSCIENCE team also focused on motivating scientists by enabling participants to garner ranking achievements the more they contribute to the community. Traditional scientists and researchers can used the platform as well. However, it is the consumer access to create, share, and
analyze data that makes MYSCIENCE different.

MYSCIENCE enables the scientific process in a forthcoming, consumer Windows Phone 7 app for free. You can imagine students at all age-levels creating their own experiments, sharing data in a collegial community, and analyzing their findings in the local region and around the globe.  Faculty can promote critical thinking skills and science with devices that we used to use to make phone
calls.

Context Matters
It is tempting to race out and buy a pallet of Windows Phone 7 devices for your students. (I would not stop you.) We would all love to find a technological silver bullet. However, learning in the appropriate context trumps devices and technology everyday.

Students still need computers to analyze their sample data along with the aggregate community data. Once the students have made their conclusions, they need publish and share the results. Different skills are needed and practiced during different points in the experiment. These activities are not likely to all happen in a meaningful way on a smartphone or mobile tablet device. Why?
Context.

I like the MYSCIENCE approach because it captures the goals of Project Hawaii in a tangible experience that promotes STEM. Learning happens across a continuum mixed with modality and context. Students and faculty that used the MYSCIENCE application will experience that continuum while the perform their experiments perhaps without realizing it. If so, that would be perfect.

Learn More
Project Hawaii is still an experimental initiative to have students help define what is next in mobile applications. You can discover more at the links below: