Adler Planetarium set to work with faith communities to promote citizen science

The Adler Planetarium is now exploring ways to partner with faith communities interested in engaging in “citizen science” via a new project funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The project centers around Zooniverse, which is a joint project of Adler Planetarium in Chicago and Oxford University in the UK that uses crowd sourcing techniques to collect human eyes and ears to glean information from digitized datasets.

The goal of the outreach is to create enduring partnerships between academic researchers and communities of faith in order to foster new collaborations and better understanding between individuals from diverse cultures and backgrounds.

Promoting the effort is Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase, astronomer at Adler Planetarium and a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Wheaton, IL, and longtime public advocate for citizen science within church communities.

In October, Adler received a Chicago Innovation Award for the Zooniverse project. The team was one of 25 recipients out of more than 450 nominated.

Zooniverse projects are unique in that they can be used remotely or during in-person group activities such as adult or youth programs, special events or seminary classes. The aim of the Sloan Foundation-backed effort is to identify existing Zooniverse projects that might be prototyped for use in a group setting and to co-develop new research projects in using the Zooniverse Project Builder tool.

Groups interested in learning more about the Zooniverse and how it can be used in congregational settings can reach out directly to Wolf-Chase by email.


Susan Barreto


Susan is an author with a long-time interest in religion and science. She currently edits Covalence, the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology’s online magazine. She has written articles in The Lutheran and the Zygon Center for Religion and Science newsletter. Susan is a board member for the Center for Advanced Study of Religion and Science, the supporting organization for the Zygon Center and the Zygon Journal. She also co-wrote Our Bodies Are Selves with Dr. Philip Hefner and Dr. Ann Pederson.

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