Hanny’s Voorwerp

Encourage students to become citizen scientists where their explorations and curiosity can impact scientific research.

Grades 3-12 60 MIN Resource by:

How can your students help NASA? Students will learn about citizen scientists and how they can impact scientific discovery and support professional scientists.

Learning Objectives

  • Develop understanding of what a citizen scientist is and how they can support scientific research.
  • Get excited about science and space exploration through a personal connection to a research topic.

What You’ll Need


  • Problem-solving
  • Exploration
  • Curiosity
  • Teamwork

“Hanny” is Hanny van Arkel, a Dutch elementary school teacher.  “Voorwerp” is Dutch for “thing” or “object.”  Thus “Hanny’s Voorwerp” could be properly rendered in English as “Hanny’s Object.”  The original name, however, has stuck.  It has its own web site:  hannysvoorwerp.com.  Apart from being interesting in its own right, it demonstrates that amateurs can still make significant discoveries in astronomy. Let’s take a look at how your students can become amateur scientists like Hanny!

  • Check out Zooniverse and/or SciStarter for projects that you might like to help with. Once you have identified a project, write a short paragraph describing why you should help with it.
  • Describe how a citizen scientist might help professional scientists and the world.

For Students

  • Pick a project that you would like to support as a citizen scientist and create a journal or blog about the experience.
  • What are other areas besides science that might use large-scale collaboration, and why would large-scale collaboration be useful in those areas?

For Teachers

  • Think about ways to integrate STEM and literacy.
  • Think about ways to make real-world connections to science for students.