If social distancing has you craving the feeling of community–and spending more time at home has you longing for a change of scenery–consider becoming a citizen scientist. Today, April 16, is Citizen Science Day, and there is no better time to connect with others and look at the world around you in a different light. No degree or background in science? No problem! All you need is a curious mind.
Although all JMRL branches are currently closed until further notice and therefore unable to host programs in-person, there are tons of great online resources available to help you find a project that you are passionate about while still practicing social distancing. But first, what exactly is citizen science? As the name suggests, citizen science is a collaboration between scientists and the public. Ordinary people contribute to scientific research by studying the world around them, collecting information, and sharing their data with scientists. This crowdsourcing model allows researchers to collect and analyze data on a global scale and solve real-world problems.
Citizen science projects are as varied as the fields of scientific study. From ecology and astronomy to genetics and medicine, there is a citizen science project for every interest. Most projects require only a mobile phone or internet access, so anyone can participate from just about anywhere in the world. Track migratory birds, observe climate trends, or accelerate medical research without leaving your backyard – perfect if you are practicing social distancing!
Ready to begin? Below is a list of resources to find a project or even create your own.
- SciStarter: Online community with over 3,000 projects searchable by location, topic, and age level
- CitSci.org: Provides tools for the entire research process including: creating new projects, managing project members, building custom data sheets, analyzing collected data sheets, analyzing collected data, and gathering participant feedback
- iNaturalist: Nature app that helps you identify plants and animals
- Citizenscience.gov: Citizen science projects created by government agencies