Ask any kid, and science will likely be at the top of their list of favorite school subjects. Our children are born curious! Take your child’s love of discovery and exploration to the next level this weekend with any of these citizen science projects.
Citizen science refers to the contribution that members of the general public add to the scientific world. That’s right, ordinary people like you, me, and our kids can do real research. This is done usually by recording our observations as part of a project organized by a professional scientist.
Most projects involve the natural world, often right in our own backyards, encouraging families to spend time together outdoors while nurturing their love for our planet.
Here are 10 easy citizen science projects to get you started:
1. Galaxy Zoo
This astronomy study furthers scientists’ understanding of our universe. Volunteers study photos of star clusters and share their comments on possible identifying features on a discussion thread accompanying each photo.
2. Bad Weather
This historical meteorology study uses volunteers to transcribe ship logs from the 19th and early 20th century voyages. What’s of interest are the entries detailing the weather conditions these ships passed through.
3. The Wilds’ Wildlife Watch
This wildlife ecology study asks volunteers to sort through photos gleaned from trail cameras on the property. Their searching for evidence of native species in a 10,000-acre conservation center located in southeastern Ohio.
4. Sounds of New York City
This environmental study delves into the subject of noise pollution. Volunteers listen to 10-second sound bytes recorded in various locations inside New York City, trying to identify the different sounds present in the recording.
5. Where Are My Body Organs?
This educational study aims to improve the way med students are learning about the anatomy and physiology of the human body. By explaining how much they know about their own bodies, volunteers are helping teachers better shape future curricula regarding the human body.
This public health study is working to reduce malaria worldwide. Volunteers are given audio clips through which they attempt to identify the correct mosquito species by their high-pitched buzz made while flying.
7. Science Scribbler
This biological study intends to streamline the analysis process involving 2-dimensional images. To ensure the algorithm is fool-proof, volunteers are double-checking the process.
8. Project Plumage
This ornithological study would make for a great winter project for the birders in our families. Volunteers determine the identifying color markings of taxidermy birds in photographs provided, helping to create the world’s largest database on bird feather color.
9. The Plastic Tide
This environmental study is seeking to create an algorithm that detects the presence of plastic and other types of marine litter on the beaches. Volunteers tag pieces of trash, helping to “train” the computer program on how to detect, measure, and monitor litter on the beach.
10. Bumble Bee Watch
This entomology study hopes to track North America’s bumble bees. Volunteers are told to take pictures of any bumble bees they find, and then to upload the pictures to create a virtual bumble bee collection.
Photo Credit: Brian A. Jackson / Shutterstock