Dream of being a Scientist?
Wouldn’t it be cool to be a scientist? It turns out you may already be a citizen scientist and don’t even know it. But wait, what the heck is one?
Well, anyone who is curious about the world around them can be a citizen scientist. If you look at plants, bugs, birds, jellyfish, or even stars, you could be one. Just make an observation (look at a plant for example), log it into an app on your phone and voila, you are a citizen scientist. The idea is to get regular citizens volunteering their time to gather information.
Types of Projects
It could be counting the number of birds in your backyard or taking a picture of a bug you happen to see. Maybe you record flowers blooming or take photos from a mountain top to help scientists analyze air pollution. There are literally hundreds of projects.
For example, I just recorded this grosbeak in our backyard. It took less than 5 seconds and now it will help researchers studying migratory birds.
Don’t want to go outside? Help conservationists count elephants from photos taken by trail cameras in Kenya. Or help classify outer space galaxies by their shape from satellite images.
Our Favorite Projects
With thousands of people doing the same thing (counting bluebirds in their backyard for example), a great deal of data can be collected quickly. It is then used by scientists for research, conducting experiments and figuring out cool stuff (a very scientific term!).
Some of Our Favorites:
- Record sightings of bumblebees at Bumble Bee Watch.
- Collect data on bird’s nests and their babies https://nestwatch.org/
- Survey frog and toad populations in your neighborhood https://frogwatch.fieldscope.org/v3
- Observe plant life cycles in your local area with Project BudBurst http://budburst.org/
- Count elephants in the African forest (from the comfort of your home) with Elephant Expedition at https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/anabellecardoso/elephant-expedition
How Does It Work?
Most citizen scientist websites allow you to search for different projects. Just enter a topic of interest and see what they offer. You could search for weather, food, or tons of wildlife which of course, is what we want. And even staying home with the pandemic, you can help researchers by going on a virtual safari and identifying African animals.
Top sites include:
SciStarter, a site with over 1,600 projects. Surely you can find one you like!
National Geographic has an idea page for their favorite projects designed specifically for children.