A Great Time To Be A Citizen Scientist

A Great Time To Be A Citizen Scientist

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. 


citizen scientist

citizen scientist

A rose-breasted grosbeak on our water fountain

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:

citizen scientist

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!

Zooniverse, the world’s largest platform for citizen science with over 1 million people helping researchers. Penguin Watch is one of their projects for kids and adults age 5 and up.

National Geographic has an idea page for their favorite projects designed specifically for children.


citizen scientist

Other Learning Tools

And the easiest way to get started? Sign up for iNaturalist and download the free app on your phone. Every time you take a photo of a plant or animal, you can share it with scientists.

A great resource found by students at Lakeville Nature Conservancy is “Citizens Science 101

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