Citizen science, or science done by members of the public, is a great way to contribute to the scientific knowledge base without going through formal training or having to devote hours to a project. Often headed up by scientists and researchers, citizen science projects range in complexity and duration, but all benefit from the number of volunteers who allow researchers to acquire and collate data in a fraction of the time otherwise possible. Want to get involved? Pick any point between April 14 and May 20 to take part in Citizen Science Day.
Presented by SciStarter, in collaboration with the Citizen Science Association, Citizen Science Day activities range from field days and bioblitzes to events at museums, nature centers, and zoos and from hackathons dedicated to preserving data to community talks and festivals. You can find events near you here and narrow down your findings by date or type of event. Whether you're looking to band birds in Wisconsin, develop computer coding skills in Texas, or conduct a species inventory in California, there's a citizen science project for you.
Some ongoing citizen science projects ask you to send in data that you can easily find in your own neighborhood. Project Budburst, Journey North, iNaturalist, Leafsnap, the Map of Life, and Project Noah apps all encourage people to share information about plants and animals you often can find minutes from your front door. All these projects allow you to submit photos and data that can be used for tracking migrations, identifying wildlife, or following changes brought about by climate change.
Other citizen science projects don't even ask you to leave the couch. Zooniverse, Eyewire, and Project SETI, which uses a screensaver to search radio waves for signs of alien life, can be done from your phone or computer. Zooniverse offers nearly 60 projects for folks with an eye for detail who want to help transcribe notes, find meteors, and identify wildlife. Eyewire invites participants to play a 3D game to help researchers map the neurons of the brain.
Whether you take part in one of these ongoing citizen science efforts or participate in a special event affiliated with Citizen Science Day, we hope you enjoy collaborating with others who value science and helping to advance what science knows about the world.
If you want to learn more about citizen science, check out this video from Science in Seconds, or listen as Lorree Griffin Burns reads from her book on the subject. Three middle school lessons also work well with getting students interested in citizen science: Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Discovery from Your Own Backyard, The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs, and Watersheds.
The Citizen Science Day logo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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