Citizen science projects are ones in which volunteers (often kids) help scientists to collect and analyze real data. They are a great way to involve kids in science and to help them hone their observation and record-keeping skills. For example, if you are looking for something to do with your kids on July 16th, you can participate in the Great Bee Hunt.
With a sunflower and a half-hour each month, you could help San Francisco State University scientist Gretchen LeBuhn learn more about the lives of pollinating bees and the essential services they provide for humans. The site includes full instructions and data sheets that you can download.
This is just one of many Citizen Science projects. We'll be pointing out more of them to you and invite you to tell us about projects in which you've participated.
I am in Massachusetts, and I participate in a project called Buds, Leaves, and Global Warming through the Harvard University Forest Schoolyard Program. They provide expert training in their central Massachusetts location, and the project itself is wonderful. If you are interested, here is a link. http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/education/buds.pdf
Here's a new Citizen Science project I just discovered.
Did You See It? (DYSI?) is a new website developed by the USGS Landslide Hazards Program that asks anyone who saw a landslide anywhere in the country to report their observations. These observations will build a much larger and more complete database that will help scientists gain a clearer picture of how landslides affect the entire United States.
I've wanted to get involved in the Mars Mapping program for a while but have never found the opportunity. Students help out NASA and Arizona State University (http://marsed.mars.asu.edu/msip-home) or Cornell University (http://astro.cornell.edu/outreach/node/267) by creating a proposal to use real images of Mars for analysis and then complete their own research. Grades 5 - undergrad.
National Geographic Education uses BioBlitz to connect students with citizen science and community geography. Kids can do real research in their own backyards, schools, or local parks. They can also participate in National Geographic and the the National Park Service's annual BioBlitz, this August in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Regardless of the venue, kids of all ages can discover, map, and count species, helping scientists collect valuable data on biodiversity while adding to the park's official species list. Students will learn and improve observation and record-keeping skills during every BioBlitz. It's a win-win situation for the students, the scientists, and the community!
In addition, National Geographic Education promotes citizen science through its Community Geography Initiative, engaging the public to document, understand, and look after the places they care about. A great example of this program is the web-based FieldScope platform, a mapping, analysis, and collaboration tool for scientists and students to work together. Take a look at the featured FieldScope projects in the Chesapeake Bay and Saguaro National Park, Arizona.
Interested in learning more? National Geographic Education houses a growing collection of content on citizen science on our website. From encyclopedic entries, to videos, articles, and activities, there is plenty to learn about the educational potential of citizen science, as outlined by Dr. Daniel Edelson, VP of Education for the National Geographic Society.
I can second Justin's plug for the National Geographic/National Park Service BioBlitz, this year at Rocky Mountain National Park. It's an amazing opportunity to go out in the field with some of the top field biologists in the world. And it's completely free! If you're in the area, you should sign up, and bring as many kids as you can.
To get an idea of what it's like, you can check out this short video I shot at last year's BioBlitz of middle school kids hunting for insects in the desert late at night.
At Science NetLinks, we have incorporated citizen science in some of our resources, including a lesson called How We Know What We Know about Our Changing Climate. This lesson uses an SB&F award-winning book as well as the Project Budburst website to introduce students to the scientific basis of climate change.
We've also developed a Tool for an app called Project Noah, which is a global study that encourages nature lovers to document the wildlife they encounter.
Also, look for an upcoming Science NetLinks lesson that encourages students to engage in FrogWatch, from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, or Wildlife Watch, from the National Wildlife Federation.
SB&F has just posted a new blog post that features a new children's science book about Citizen Science projects by Subaru prize winning author Loree Griffin Burns. Check it out!
Just came across this Science Friday blog post about tracking monarch butterflies with your iphone.
"You can help scientists learn more about the monarch's incredible journey using a free app created by Journey North. The app lets you use your mobile device to report sightings of the colorful migrators, and the data collected will help scientists better understand the monarchs' complicated migration behavior."
You have an opportunity to help NASA tonight (June 10)! They are looking to confirm the existence of a new meteor shower, the gamma Delphinids.
NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office is looking for photos and video of the possible meteor shower and they have set up a live chat from 11:00pm - 3:00am EDT to answer questions.
Details can be found here.
Science NetLinks has a tool for NASA's Meteor Counter App that you could use tonight.
There was a nice article in the New York Times yesterday about citizen scientists helping to map and track bird species. It profiles the eBird program which launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.
"It is amassing one of the largest and fastest growing biodiversity data resources in existence. For example, in March 2012, participants reported more than 3.1 million bird observations across North America!"
The program also collects data from across the globe and is available in English, Spanish, and French. Find more details and learn how to participate here.
A Wired article highlights a citizen science project asking people to record bug sounds in their backyards. This is for the Atlas of North American Calling Insects created by Entomologist Sam Droege from the USGS. The project uses iNaturalist, an online citizen science community. Check out our tool for the iNaturalist app and help out with this research.
Are you looking for activities to get your students involved in Citizen Science? Nat Geo Education has a bunch of (FREE) resources for teachers to apply in the classroom. For example, NatGeo FieldScope allows citizen scientists to collect and upload data in the field. In the classroom, students and other participants can compare their data - including measurements, field notes, and digital media - with peers and professional scientists. To learn more about FieldScope and citizen science at Nat Geo, click here.