Projects for volunteers
Want to start editing this wiki? Here are some quick tips
Remember you need to register/login to edit!. See this tutorial for help in creating your account. After creating your account, you will receive a confirmation email with a confirmation link. Please click that link to confirm your email address.
There are multiple ways in which you can contribute. There is something for everyone. You do not need to be a computer programmer to contribute. If you are simply a naturalist at heart, that will do...regardless of your area of expertise/work/research. Please browse through the activities below that we want volunteers for and see if you can commit to one or more activities. If none fits your bill but you still want to contribute, email us at thebrahmaproject at gmail dot com mentioning your interests and we will get in touch with you soon.
- 1 If you are a teacher
- 2 Species information
- 3 Education
- 4 Awareness
- 5 Website management
If you are a teacher
- Please consider all of the activities mentioned below as though they were projects for your students. The students may be able to submit the findings of their research as an official report to you. We encourage you to also include the activity of making species entries on this website as part of their project.
- Other activities you can work on the website with your students include development of online learning modules and collection of NGO information.
- You and the students will be given due credit for their contributions to the website.
- If as a teacher you are able to contribute significantly to the this project, we will feature you as a Major Brahma Contributor in the About us section of the website.
Developing undeveloped Divisions
Till now, we have only been able to develop the Division:Plants, Division:Mammals and Division:Education. However, we havent had the personnel strength to devote to developing the other Divisions. However, we would love to have someone be the leader for the other Divisions (you can be a leader for multiple divisions too). On a priority basis, we would like to get the Division:Reptiles and Division:Birds going as soon as possible.
You do not have to know programming/coding to do this. You just need to be a naturalist at heart to be involved. For kick-starting each of these divisions, what we need is a set of questions one needs to ask users for getting information about species. For example, for plants, take a look at the form here (You need to register/log-in to view this page). You dont need to create this form. Just send us the following information in MS-WORD at thebrahmaproject at gmail dot com:
1) A list of questions you want to ask users
2) Trustworthy online sources where to find them. This list need not be exhaustive. We have a list of sources too and we can mix and match.
3) Expected answers for some questions. For example, for mammals, if the question is States in which this species is present?, the expected responses will include a list of all states of India.
First, if you want to be involved with doing this, get in touch with us at the above email address. After discussing with us, we can decide the next course of action.
Filling species information
The core essence of the website is the information in species pages like these. Some of the information can be retrieved automatically, but such information is mostly about taxonomy, nomenclature and morphology of the species. Most of the India-specific information such as its use in religious practices, cooking, mythology etc. is not available online. This information needs to be entered manually through a form. We have written a nifty little help manual for making new species entries on the website or adding information to existing ones. You can access it by clicking here.
The above link also has a list of ~250 plants of medicinal significance and ~350 mammals for easy reference. Make sure that you do not copy copyrighted information from other websites onto this website. This would constitute copyright violation and may lead to legal action against the website.
Collecting species information
It is likely that many of you will not want to fill information through the form. You may be more comfortable doing fieldwork, talking to people and researching books in the library to find information about species. If so, you can even send us the information in an EXCEL sheet and we will incorporate it on the website giving due credit to you. Mail us at thebrahmaproject at gmail dot com.
For example, for plant species, follow the following procedure to know what information to collect:
1) Go to this page
2) Click on Edit with form or View form button on top of the page.
3) Scroll down till you see the blue-colored tabs
4) Click on each tab to go to the questions in that tab and know those questions
5) You can collect information on any of those questions and send it to us at the above email address.
Developing online learning modules
Indians are beginning to spend more and more time online, something that the western world has already gotten into the habit of doing. With the growing scope of the internet, it'd be imperative to provide online educational tools related to climate change, environment and biodiversity in general and specifically, in the context of India. On this website, we have the capability of creating rich learning modules using textual information from Wikipedia, images from Youtube, images in Wikimedia Commons and so on. We can also create quizzes and exercises for testing the knowledge of students. All of these tools make for an enriched learning experience. Once in place, these learning modules will be accessible all over India and around the world. So a teacher sitting in Sikkim can teach his/her students about Indian biodiversity and other things.
Quizzes can be used as tools that make the learning process interesting. We have the capability of creating Quizzes like these. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the Take a Quiz section). We can incorporate any web pages, youtube videos, images etc. as questions or as answers to quizzes. We have created five such quizzes, however we need people to create many more quizzes (A question bank, sort of). It'd be great if you can couple quiz creation with developing complete learning modules (See above).
We had undertaken the activity of writing a short summary of a research article related to climate change or biodiversity every month or every two months. However, due to insufficient personnel strength, this activity has not materialized. If you are interested, you could contribute to regularly writing a research summary and archiving previous research summaries every month/every two months. Contact us for more information.
Please check the this page for current content
As you may be well aware, currently there is an exodus of people towards cities in India. Similarly, families in India, which traditionally were joint families, are slowly disintegrating, especially in the cities. The so-called "nuclear families" consist of the mother, the father and and their kids. Grandparents are slowly moving out of the families. Due to all these factors, knowledge about our biodiversity which was traditionally handed orally or practically from generation to generation is being rapidly lost. If this trend continues, we would be losing a large part of the rich legacy of India.
What kind of knowledge is being lost? Medicinal uses of different plants, knowledge of the concoctions prepared, cultural associations of different plants and animals to name a few. For example, our grandmothers told us stories of gods and goddesses and their favorite animals and birds and plants. However, how many of these stories do WE know to pass on to our future generations?
This particular activity of Writing Articles aims to collect all these stories, from different parts of India and host them at one place. For example, if you know some stories and cultural associations of some species, you could write a paragraph on it on our website. These type of stories generally cannot be verified by one group or one person. However, using the power of community moderation, we can verify and display such stories. Stories you write will be prominently attributed to you, of course.
For example, a paragraph on Elephant would read as follows:
Elephants have been considered sacred in Indian culture. The head of Lord Ganesha, the God of wisdom, is that of an elephant. As the mythological story goes, Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva was alone at home and wanted to have a bath. To guard the entrance, Parvati created a human child - Ganesha - out of the earth and asked him to guard the entrance while she took a bath. While Parvati was bathing, Lord Shiva came to the scene and wanted to enter the house. However Ganesha blocked him from entering saying that it was his mother's orders not to allow anyone inside. Enraged, Lord Shiva cut off Ganesha's head and entered the house. Parvati, upon learning this, was overcome with grief. Upon learning that Ganesha was his own son, Lord Shiva felt sad too. Parvati then asked Lord Shiva to go down the Himalayas (their abode), cut off the head of the first animal he sees and splice it onto the headless body of Ganesha. The first animal Lord Shiva found was an elephant and that is how Lord Ganesha came to have the elephant's head and thus, infinite wisdom. The elephant plays an important part in the culture of the subcontinent and beyond, featuring prominently in Jataka tales and the Panchatantra. Elephants have also been used traditionally as vehicles for royalty - kings, emperors and monarchs. They were used in battles by almost all armies in India, since pre-historic times. Elephants are used in cultural festivals such as temple processions in Kerala.
If you are interested in doing this, please contact us at thebrahmaproject at gmail dot com
Collecting information on NGOs
We would like to create an online repository of all environment related NGOs in India. The reason for this is to enable to NGOs to identify other NGOs working for environmental conservation locally and around the country. Just like one page for one species, we will like to create one page for one NGO, with textual, pictorial and video information about them. The NGOs can then access the website, update their own page if they want, interface with other NGOs, know activities of other NGOs, access funding opportunities, collaborate and so on.
There are three activities that volunteers could do for this:
- Work with us to develop and manage the online component.
- Do the field-work. Collect information about the NGOs and send it to us. Contact us to know what information to collect
- (At a later stage) Enable the NGOs to get more involved with the Brahma website.
This can be a good activity for teachers to allot to their students.
Expanding the Official Documents repository
We have created an online repository of official national and international documents related to climate change and biodiversity. We have links to some PDFs, however we need people to update and add new links as and when they become available. This also includes going back and searching for old yet relevant articles, sorting by year of publication and maintaining the repository as a whole.
We have an active Facebook and Twitter accounts (see bottom of the Main Page). Our goal is to keep as many people informed about important news related to biodiversity and environment. We also keep people posted about various NGOs in the country, different endangered and extinct species and provide links to interesting videos and websites online. If you'd like to help us post regular updates, please contact us.
There are several good quality videos related to biodiversity on Youtube. We intend to be the largest collection of biodiversity-related videos on the internet. Videos are the best way to pique interest and to make people aware about the magnificence of earth's flora and fauna. Check out our Division:Videos for a listing of videos currently embedded on Brahma.
If you would like to help us with the online component, you can help us with the following activities:
- Website design - Making the look and feel more aesthetic
- Writing scripts for aggregating information from other websites
- We have a large list of functionalities we would like to see on our website. This involves writing PHP/Python scripts and messing around with MySQL stuff. If you are good with that (and HTML/CSS), we are looking for you!