We have a dangerous habit of trying to outdo ourselves... and this time, we're going MEGA!
On April 13, Citizen Science Day, we are aiming to gather thousands of people across the US to analyze an entire dataset that answers a single question about Alzheimers disease in just one hour! That's right, something that would take scientists in the lab an entire year if they worked alone.
Together with our friends - SciStarter - we invite public libraries, schools, senior living centers and each and every one of you to join this record-breaking effort, and get one step closer to understanding and curing Alzheimer's.
How to participate
Register on megathon.us if you haven't yet.
If you're an existing catcher, you don't have to sign up to participate, but we encourage it!
You will get all the Megathon info & materials delivered to your inbox. Use them to set up and prepare for the event.
We prepared different resources for you, depending on what type of participant you are (do let us know if anything is missing!):
Be there - at your library, local pub or on your favorite armchair - on April 13, 1:30 to 3:30 PM EST (timezone converter here), and help us make a dent Alzheimer’s research!
- 1:30-2pm ET: Livestream begins -- featuring honored guests! (TBA)
- 2-3pm ET: All hands on deck (or keyboards!) -- the one hour challenge begins
- 3-3:30 pm: Results announced -- including the answer to the research question
Feel free to email us at any time if you have questions or need any kind of support, and check out the frequently asked questions below!
- Spread the word! Click the links below to:
Stay tuned for more updates, including special guests announcements and... what research question will we be answering ❓
Here's what a megathon meetup might look like:
Q. Can I participate from the comfort of my home?
A. Yes, although we encourage you to invite friends and family to join you...host your own mini-megathon if you don’t find an event near you.
Q. How much internet bandwidth will I need to host a Megathon?
A: Stall Catchers requires between 0.25 and 0.5 mbps download bandwidth per user (about 1/10 the bandwidth of streaming a Youtube video). Upload bandwidth is negligible. Typical download speeds for home accounts is between 50 and 100 mbps, so a typical home account could accommodate approximately between 100 and 400 players. That’s a big house! However, it is recommended that any meetups intending to participate in the Megathon test their WiFi network with real users playing Stall Catchers.
Q. Is there an alternative option to engage patrons in the Megathon without everyone participating on a separate device?
A. Not everyone will feel comfortable or be able to get online, get trained, and participate in Stall Catchers. An alternative would be to have the host login to Stall Catchers and show the game on a big screen. Then ask people in the room to vote for flowing or stalled. See this segment of The Crowd & The Cloud PBS special to see an example of how it was done at Hawthorne retirement community.
Q. Can new people just show up, create their Stall Catchers/SciStarter account and jump right in?
A. It’s not advised but it is possible. The first half hour of the event is designed to help people sign up for Stall Catchers and SciStarter, learn how to do Stall Catchers, form teams, and THEN jump in!
Q. We don’t have laptops for the public in our library and only a limited number of public PCs are available. Should/ could I ask people to bring in their own laptops to participate?
A. Yes, participants could bring their own laptops. But they can also play on tablets and smartphones (stallcatchers.com on any browser) and via the Android app. Some people find that a mobile device is their favorite method, but others prefer a laptop and a bigger screen! You could suggest both ways to participate in your invitations (e.g., “Bring your laptop or your mobile device”).
Q. For testing the Stall Catchers website between now and the event, is it possible to create multiple TEST accounts of some sort?
A. Yes, you can create test accounts yourselves (or we could do it for you ahead of time if you you let us know when you need them) -- simply indicate “TEST” somewhere in the username, and use a fake email (e.g. email@example.com -- different email for each username). That way if you log out of a test user account, you won’t be able to log back in (because you will have no password), but that one session will be enough to test the game on your devices. (And you can always create more test accounts if you need them!)
You can also reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will create test accounts for you.
Q. We are inviting people to join the Megathon from citizen science projects, schools, memory centers, research centers, senior center and service clubs--are there other potential stakeholders we should invite?
A. Yes...once you add your event to SciStarter (https://scistarter.org/add-event ), you can use the People Finder to easily invite anyone from the SciStarter community within a few miles of your event! consider inviting people to help facilitate your event. SciStarter can help match you with volunteer-organizations, such as Master Naturalists, where members may be looking for opportunities to fulfill volunteer hours. SciStarter will provide training for facilitators. Email CarolineN@SciStarter.com if you have or need a facilitator.
Q. How can we measure our local contribution to the Stall Catchers/Megathon project, and what’s a reasonable goal (per ten attendees)?
A. Each local meetup will have a team on Stall Catchers. Detailed statistics are available on each team’s “team page” - and that shows things like total number of annotations, number of research vessels annotated, and so on. We will also add a new statistic, which is “lab-equivalent research time” that shows how long it would have taken an laboratory expert to analyze the same amount of data that your team analyzed. Typically a lab expert can analyze data ten times faster than a Stall Catchers player, so if you had 20 people on your team, your team might accomplish two hours worth of laboratory work during the one-hour Megathon. The size of the team and skill level of players will have a bearing on this. We are also considering creating a team goal that assigns a fair share of the data to each team based on its size. The idea is that a 20 person team would be assigned twice as much data to analyze as a 10 person team, and if each team meets its goal, then the entire dataset will be analyzed by the end of the challenge. So this metric would be a percent of team data analyzed, and if you have a hard-working or fast-working team, you could actually exceed 100%, which means you are an overachieving team and are doing extra work that helps a team that might not be able to analyze as quickly (for example, due to bandwidth issues). In any case, we will aim to make goals attainable and prepare everyone for success. And at the end, we will have a preliminary research results that is based on the collective effort of everyone who participates in the Megathon!
Q. Do you have any suggestions about programs to supplement the Megathon for Citizen Science Day (e.g. would a dementia simulation be a synergistic program, are there any videos you would recommend to introduce citizen science or Alzheimer's, types of experts to invite for discussion, science-themed snack ideas, etc.)?
A. Yes! We’re developing some “Programs in a Box” about citizen science and Alzheimer’s Disease. These will include powerpoints, posters, activity ideas, and more to help librarians introduce topics and provide resources for patrons interested in these topics. We also recommend inviting local experts or community members to speak.
Q. What’s the ratio of volunteers to participants that we should have for the Megathon?
A. For a small group (less than 20 people), a single volunteer would likely be sufficient. For a larger group (more than 20 people), it would be helpful to have a second volunteer to walk around the room and help people get started or provided assistance if anyone gets stuck. Anyone who has played Stall Catchers before (for example, during a test or dry run meetup) could assist.
Q. Do people need to sign up for a SciStarter account, a Stall Catchers account, and a Megathon account?
A. If you sign up on megathon.us you will be registered on both Stall Catchers and SciStarter simultaneously and the two accounts will be linked. This is the recommended option. If you are already have an account on SciStarter or Stall Catchers, go ahead and register at megathon.us then email email@example.com to link the accounts.
Handy Megathon resources:
- Megathon info & sign up: megathon.us
- Librarian step-by-step guide for megathon
- Citizen Science Day resources