Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.
Over its first two years of operations, NEPTUNE Canada has recorded thousands of hours of video, both during installation dives and from underwater cameras installed across its subsea network. All this video needs to be studied, but the organization’s software is not yet sophisticated enough to automatically identify a wide variety of animals and other features. By playing Digital Fishers, citizen scientists help researchers gather data from video, and unveil the mechanisms shaping the animal communities inhabiting the deep.
NEPTUNE Canada and the University of Victoria’s Centre for Global Studies (CFGS) developed Digital Fishers with help from $1 million in funding from CANARIE, Canada's Advanced Research and Innovation Network.
Zooniverse’s Space Warps project calls on citizen scientists to help discover elusive objects in the universe by looking through images that have never before been seen. Computer algorithms have already scanned the images, but there are likely to be many more space warps that the algorithms have missed. Space Warps’ creators think that it's only with human help that all of them will be found.
Einstein's theory of gravity, General Relativity, predicted that massive objects, such as stars, would bend the space around them such that passing light rays follow curved paths. Evidence for this theory was first obtained by Arthur Eddington in 1919, when during a solar eclipse he observed that stars near the edge of the Sun appeared to be slightly out of position.
Observations of the distorted background galaxy can also provide useful information about the object that is behaving as a gravitational lens. The separation and distortion of the lensed images can tell astronomers how much mass there is in the object, and how it is arranged. It’s one of the few ways of mapping out where the dark matter in the universe is, how “clumpy” it is and how dense it is near the centers of galaxies. Knowing this can provide crucial information about how galaxies evolve.
Gravitational lenses help astronomers answer all kinds of questions, including how many very low mass stars–that aren’t bright enough to detect directly–are lurking in distant galaxies. Read more on the Space Warps blog.
Discarded metal, fishing gear, plastic, glass and other waste can both sully a beach and pose a health threat to its inhabitants. That’s why the NOAA Marine Debris Division and the Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative (SEA-MDI), located within the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia, have developed the Marine Debris Tracker mobile app. This iPhone and Android software lets you check in when you find trash on our coastlines and waterways.
The project’s goal is to spread awareness of marine debris, as well as serve as an easy-to-use and simple tool for marine debris data collection. Citizen scientists can provide feedback individually or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Given that the majority of debris tracking might take place in remote areas or even on the water, where there is likely no WiFi or even a cell signal, citizen scientists can log and track as many items as they want and store this info in their smartphones until they return to a place where they can wirelessly submit their findings.
Natural history museums across the world share a common goal—to make scientific data accessible to those who would use it. Zooniverse’s Notes from Nature project gives citizen scientists the opportunity to make a scientifically important contribution. Every transcription that is completed brings researchers closer to filling gaps in our knowledge of global biodiversity. Help museum staff and scientists by transcribing the labels and ledgers that have been meticulously recorded and stored for the very reason that they might be someday be useful.
People have been collecting specimens from the natural world for centuries—minerals, plants, fungi and animals. Today, there are an estimated two billion specimens housed in natural history museums around the world! These biological collections document where species and populations exist now and where they existed decades and centuries before, so they hold irreplaceable information necessary for uncovering the patterns of changes in species distributions and ecosystem composition over time. Scientists use such data and information in order to address key environmental issues we are facing right now, such as the impacts of climate change and how diseases affect wildlife and humans.
For the information held in these collections to be used to its full potential there must be better digital access to these data. Most natural history collections are housed in museum cabinets, where they are not easily available to citizens and researchers. Only a small fraction of all natural history specimens is available digitally over the Internet, while the vast majority remains locked away from view in an inflexible, limited format. The Notes from Nature transcription project is a citizen science platform built to address this problem by digitizing the world’s biological collections one record at a time!
The National Severe Storms Laboratory’s (NSSL) Precipitation Identification Near the Ground (PING) project is looking for citizen scientists who can report on certain weather conditions—hail and winter weather, in particular—from the ground. NSSL, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), collects weather information from Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) during storm events. However, these Doppler radars cannot see close to the ground. Through PING, NSSL wants to compare its radar findings with citizen-science observations.
Citizen scientists can report their findings using iPhone or Android apps, or via a Web browser. The mPING apps were designed as a scientific tool to help us fulfill two very specific applied research missions: winter surface precipitation type and hail occurrence/size.
Did you know you can print live cells from an inkjet printer? Companies like Organovo are developing ways to 3-D print human tissues and organs. But the basic technologies are so accessible that we wanted to play around with them ourselves.
BioCurious has built its own functioning bioprinter from a couple of old CD drives, an inkjet cartridge and an Arduino. We probably won't be printing human organs any time soon, but how about printing a leaf from plant cells? Or add a BlueRay laser to turn it into a miniature laser cutter to print "lab-on-a-chip" microfluidic devices.
BioCurious community projects are open to anyone, and are driven entirely by whoever wants to show up and participate.
Conducted in Partnership with the Road Ecology Center', The UC Davis Road Ecology Center’s Road Kill project brings together researchers and policy makers from ecology and transportation to design sustainable transportation systems based on an understanding of the impact of roads on natural landscapes and human communities.
Wildlife live almost everywhere people do, although we often take these creatures and their natural habitats for granted. As a result, we are also losing wildlife at an alarming rate. Roads crisscross many landscapes, providing a convenient place from which to see certain wildlife. Unfortunately, this is also where many animals die, hit by cars or trucks. The Road Kill project collects observations of wildlife along roads (and off them too) to create a better understanding of where they live and where they are moving to. In the case of road kill, researchers also want to understand what causes road kill, which animals are affected, whether or not there are road kill "hotspots" and what can be done to reduce road kill impacts on wildlife.
By contributing wildlife observation data, citizen scientists help researchers understand where wildlife live and the threats they face from (mostly) human activities. Don't worry if you can't identify an animal to the species level right away. A picture will help researchers to do it, and just saying "rabbit" or "hawk" is useful information too.
The inaugural Space Hacker Workshop on May 4-5, 2013, at the Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, Calif.—across the street (literally) from NASA Ames Research Center—will teach citizen scientists and hardware hackers how to do "space on the cheap." During the two-day event, participants learn how they can build and fly experiments in space, and even fly in space as citizen astronauts, through the Citizens in Space program.
The workshop is sponsored by Citizens in Space, a project of the United States Rocket Academy, and the Silicon Valley Space Center. Citizens in Space is dedicated to citizen science and citizen space exploration.
Citizens in Space has purchased 10 suborbital flights on the XCOR Lynx spacecraft, now under construction by XCOR Aerospace at the Mojave Air and Space Port, which will be made available to the citizen-science community. Citizens in Space will also select and train 10 citizen astronauts to fly as payload operators for up to 100 small experiments. For information on submitting payloads, see the group’s Call for Experiments.
Canadian herpetologists (scientists who study amphibians and reptiles) are studying declines in various species, hoping to determine causes and possible solutions. Volunteer monitoring programs such as FrogWatch Canada are important because they are often the first signal that a particular species is declining. If such programs were up and running in the late 1970s we would have a much better idea why Northern Leopard Frogs declined across the prairies.
Around the world amphibians are declining. This is occurring in pristine wilderness areas as well as severely modified suburban wetlands. It is unlikely that there is only one global cause of this decline, rather amphibians are being affected by a variety of causes, including increased UV radiation and chemical pollutants. Some species, such as the Golden Toad of Costa Rica and possibly as many as seven species from Australia are now extinct. The loss of the Golden Toad is particularly sobering as it became extinct despite the fact that its habitat was protected in a large nature reserve.
FrogWatch Canada—not to be confused with FrogWatch USA—is part of the NatureWatch program managed by the University of Ottawa Laboratory for Integrated Environmental & Policy Change in collaboration with Nature Canada.
Project MERCCURI (Microbial Ecology Research Combining Citizen and University Researchers on ISS) is an investigation of how microbes found in buildings on Earth—in particular public buildings such as stadiums—compare to those on board the biggest building ever built in space: the International Space Station.
The project lets citizen and student scientists participate in the research using kits to collect microbes from surface areas in buildings. Amateur scientists can form a team or join a team to collect samples through September 2013. Collected samples will be mailed to the University of California, Davis, where they will be sequenced. Results will be shared on the SciStarter citizen science Web site so participants can compare their samples to those from other locations, including the International Space Station.
Project MERCCURI kicks off at the National Science Teachers Association conference in San Antonio, Texas, on April 11 where project leaders will distribute free kits and teach teachers how to collect samples. Participants will use a sample kit with a q-tip to swab surface areas. Samples will then be analyzed at U.C. Davis, for identification through DNA sequencing.
In addition, up to 40 samples will be selected to fly in September on the International Space Station, where their growth rates in microgravity will be monitored using a device called the microplate reader and compared to their counterparts in the U.C. Davis lab.
SciStarter is teaming up with our sister site, Science Cheerleader (an organization of more than 250 current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders who are also scientists and engineers) and scientists at the U.C. Davis to conduct this research.
Public radio station WNYC invites families, armchair scientists and lovers of nature to join in a bit of mass science: Track the cicadas that emerge once every 17 years across New Jersey, New York State and the whole Northeast by building homemade sensors and reporting your observations.
Magicicada Brood II will make its 17-year appearance when the ground eight inches down is a steady 64 degrees Fahrenheit/17.8 degrees Celsius. Help predict the arrival by planting a homemade temperature sensor in the ground and reporting your findings back to WNYC. We'll put them on a map and share your observations of this once-in-a-generation discovery with our entire community.
The whole detector costs about $80 in parts and takes about two hours to build. You'll want it in the ground by mid-April, the earliest the cicadas are likely to emerge.
Hummingbirds at Home is a new citizen science project from the National Audubon Society designed to help scientists understand how climate change, flowering patterns and feeding by people are impacting hummingbirds.
On the Hummingbirds at Home website citizen scientists can track, report on and follow the spring hummingbird migration in real time. There is also a free mobile app to make it easy to report sightings, share photos and learn more about these birds.
Citizen Scientists can participate on a number of levels--reporting a single sighting or documenting hummingbird activity in their community throughout the life of the project, for example. Help Audubon scientists document the hummingbirds' journey and direct change in the future to ensure these birds do not disappear.
University of Delaware researchers working with mid-Atlantic scallop fishermen invite citizen scientists to help survey the scallop population in the New York Bight, off the coasts of New York, New Jersey and Delaware by analyzing undersea images captured by a robot submarine named Dora. The SubseaObserver approach is designed to cover more terrain in less time while leaving the undersea environment undisturbed.
Citizen scientists view images of the seabed taken by Dora and submit their observations to project scientists, who in turn send information compiled from many citizen-scientist reports to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other agencies to manage the mid-Atlantic’s scallop population.
The Snowtweets Project provides a way for people interested in snow measurements to quickly broadcast their own snow depth measurements to the Web. These data are then picked up by the project’s database and mapped in near real time. Snow and ice researchers at the University of Waterloo, Canada, are especially interested in using Web-based digital technologies to map snow depth data; currently, the project uses the micro-blogging site Twitter as its data broadcasting scheme.
Visualization of data is a key aspect of the project. To view the snow depth measurements (or tweets), the Waterloo researchers have developed a data visualization tool called Snowbird that lets you explore the reported snow depths around the globe. You can also click on the navigation link (visualization) at the top of the page that will take you there. The viewer shows where the reports are located and how much snow there is at each reported site.
The researchers have also developed a near real-time satellite data feed so citizen scientists can see how the tweets compare with the satellite view. Snowbird will allow you to toggle real-time satellite NASA MODIS data which gives snow cover extent. You can also look at some historical maps for north America.
IceWatch USA, a program of nonprofit Nature Abounds, brings citizen scientists the opportunity to help professional researchers study how our climate is changing. In as little as 10 minutes, citizen scientists can report information that will help to analyze how climate will change in different regions of the United States, and how ecosystems are reacting to the change. IceWatch USA is modeled after and a proud partner of Ice Watch Canada.
Due to the increased emissions of greenhouse gases, among other factors, the climate is changing. Accurately recording and analyzing "ice on" and "ice off" events (also known as ice phenology) as well as other factors like snow depth, air temperature and wildlife observations offers a practical way to learn how climate change affects our environment. Even if you live in a Southern State that doesn't experience ice, your winter observations are still important for the "big" picture, including air temperature, precipitation and wildlife viewing.
University of Minnesota researchers set up hundreds of cameras to cover more than 2,500 square kilometers throughout Africa’s Serengeti ecosystem initially to study lions. Now the researchers are looking to expand their knowledge via the Snapshot Serengeti citizen science project to better understand how competing species coexist in a shared environment.
Researchers Ali Swanson and Margaret Kosmala, working with Craig Packer, professor of ecology, evolution and behavior, have developed a site to enlist volunteers to identify millions of “camera trap” photos taken to study animal behavior in the Serengeti.
Citizen scientists view sequences of two or three photos and identify all the different animals that appear in the photos.
Here’s one for hockey fans. In 2012, scientists in Montreal warned there will be fewer outdoor skating days in the future. Their predictions are based on the results of data taken from weather stations across Canada over the last 50 years. In some regions, they warn there may one day be no more backyard rinks at all. Remember the story of how Wayne Gretzky learned to play hockey on the backyard rink his father made for him in Brantford, Ontario? The scientists’ report says some day that will no longer be possible – at least, not in Brantford.
This prompted a group of geographers at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, to create RinkWatch. They want outdoor rink lovers across North America and elsewhere to tell report on their rinks. Pin the location of your rink on the researchers’ map, and then each winter record every day that you are able to skate on it. The researchers will gather up all the information from all the backyard rinks and use it to track the changes in climate.
Formed in 2000, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade (LABB) is an environmental health and justice organization working with communities that neighbor the state's oil refineries and chemical plants. The group’s mission is to support communities' use of grassroots action to create informed, sustainable neighborhoods free from industrial pollution.
The EPA-approved "bucket" is an air-sampling device that people who live next to industry—“fenceline” neighbors—use to document pollution in their neighborhoods. Air is drawn into a 19-liter bucket and sent to a laboratory for analysis. Though the bucket is an important part of the assistance the LABB provides, it is only one part of a toolbox that includes education, assistance with organizing, media and other types of sampling (water, soil, seafood).
LABB programs include the Refinery Efficiency Initiative, Environmental Justice Corps, Fenceline Neighbors Networks and Oil Spill Response.
The Genographic Project is a multiyear research initiative that uses cutting-edge genetic and computational technologies to analyze historical patterns in DNA from participants around the world to better understand our human genetic roots.
By participating in the latest phase of this real-time scientific project, you can learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible. You will also help support the Genographic Legacy Fund, which works to conserve and revitalize indigenous cultures around the world.
The three components of the project are:
The Genographic Project is anonymous, nonmedical, and nonprofit, and all results are placed in the public domain following scientific peer publication. For more details, visit: Genographic.nationalgeographic.com/about/
UPDATE: Please send your video submissions to the researchers by March 31, 2013.
The Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab in NYC is investigating the different ways people and dogs play together, and we need your help (well, you and your dog’s help). We are cataloguing all the ways people play with their dogs and asking dog owners to submit short videos of their own dog-human play.
Project: Play with Your Dog is open to anyone, in any country. If you live with a dog, we want to see you play.
To participate, find or make a 30-60 second video of you and your dog playing in whatever way you like to play together, and then upload the video to our website and complete a short survey. You are also invited to add a picture of you and your dog to our Wall of Contributors.
By participating in Project: Play with Your Dog, citizen scientists are providing valuable information into the nuances and intricacies of our relationships with dogs.
Over the past several months, members of Sebastian Seung’s lab at M.I.T. have been taking its EyeWire game through its paces. During this beta testing period, an average of 30 to 50 people played EyeWire each day, collectively mapping more than 160,000 individual cubes.
The project is now ready for wider use, and the researchers are asking citizen scientists to help them make the great scientific leaps necessary for us to understand the brain’s higher functions. The project will also test whether citizen science can impact neuroscience in the same way that it has impacted fields like astronomy and biology.
In the coming months, the researchers will release new game features, including interactive updates and dynamics that will enhance the EyeWire experience. The researchers encourage citizen scientists to subscribe to their blog and connect with them on Facebook to be the first to get the latest EyeWire news.
The researchers’ challenge is to map a J cell, a particular type of retinal neuron. While this task would take weeks for a professional neuroscientist, EyeWire’s goal is to map a J cell in just one week. Mapping the J cell and its connections will help the researchers understand how the retina functions in visual perception. If successful, this will be the first example of a “neural circuit” mapped by an online community.
No specialized knowledge of neuroscience is required; citizen scientists need only be curious, intelligent and observant. Their input will be used by engineers to improve the underlying computational technology, eventually making it powerful enough to detect "miswirings" of the brain that are hypothesized to underlie disorders like autism and schizophrenia.
In association with the Human Food Project, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder along with researchers at other institutions around the world are launching a new open-access project known as “American Gut” in which participants can get involved in finding out what microbes are in their own guts and what they are doing in there.
The project builds on previous efforts, including the five-year, $173-million NIH-funded Human Microbiome Project, to characterize the microbes living in and on our bodies. But unlike other projects that have focused on carefully chosen test subjects with a few hundred people, this project allows the public to get involved and is encouraging tens of thousands of people to do so.
The American Gut project is an opportunity for the citizen scientists working with a team of leading researchers and labs throughout the United States to help shape a new way of understanding how diet and lifestyle may contribute to human health through each person’s suite of trillions of tiny microbes.
uBiome has launched a citizen science effort to map the human microbiome, the microorganisms that inhabit every inch of our skin as well as our ears, mouth, sinuses, genitals and gut. The correct balance of microbes serves to keep potential pathogens in check and regulate the immune system. Microbes also perform essential functions such as digesting food and synthesizing vitamins.
The biotech startup from the University of California San Francisco branch of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) seeks to spark the era of personalized medicine by providing the public with easily accessible information about their own bodies using the latest in high-throughput DNA sequencing technology.
uBiome provides citizen scientists with a catalog of their own microbes; detailing the microbial composition of the body and explaining what is known about each genera of microbe. In addition, uBiome compares participants’ microbiomes with numerous past studies on the role of the microbiome in health, diet and lifestyle. uBiome also provides personal analysis tools and data viewers so that users can anonymously compare their own data with crowd data as well as with the latest scientific research. uBiome is HIPAA compliant and will not release personal identifying data or information to anyone.
The more people join the uBiome community, the more statistical power the project will have to investigate connections between the microbiome and human health. For example, with 500 people, uBiome will be able to answer questions about relatively common diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. With 2,500, the project can investigate connections to breast cancer. With 50,000 people, the project can begin to address multiple sclerosis and leukemia.
The ruffed grouse is a forest species widely distributed across New York State. While some grouse are found in more mature forests, the greatest population densities are in younger-aged forests. These species prefer habitats in an early stage of succession such as young forests, shrublands, and old orchards and fields. As New York's forests grow older, these preferred habitats are declining, resulting in a decline in grouse and woodcock numbers since the 1960s. Turkey hunters in pursuit of that wary gobbler this spring are ideally suited for monitoring ruffed grouse during the breeding season.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) currently monitors grouse populations in the fall through the Cooperator Ruffed Grouse Hunting Log where hunters record the number of birds flushed per hour of hunting effort. The Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey provides a harvest-independent index of grouse distribution and abundance during the critical breeding season in the spring. Grouse and woodcock share many of the same habitats, so the information you provide will help monitor populations of both of these great game birds as habitats change both locally and on a landscape scale.
Halloween may be over for another year, but citizen scientists can still help their professional peers better understand these nocturnal creatures by listening to recordings and identifying different bat calls. The goal is to use citizen-science classifications to create software that researchers worldwide can use to extract information from bat recordings, making it really easy to track bat populations. This will make understanding how bat populations are being effected by global change much easier.
Bat Detective begins its journey in Europe and, over the course of the project will release data from more areas from around the world. In Europe, there are more than 40 species of bats, and all use echolocation to eat insects. Most species hibernate to escape the food shortage in insects during the winter. Others migrate to other parts of Europe during winter, but very little is known about which species do this. In the summer, most species split into separate female and male roosts (in buildings, tree cavities, under bridges, caves), where the males just chill out whilst the females busily gather insects to raise their baby. During the autumn the males and females come back together again to mate and then don’t emerge again until the next spring.
Many believe that monitoring the status of bat populations can help tell us about the health of a natural environment as a whole; the bats serve as an early warning, like a canary in a coal mine. This is because bat species are distributed all over the world, and provide lots of services to humans through controlling pests by eating vast quantities of insects and pollinating and dispersing commercially important crops (for example bananas, tequila).
Bat Detective is a partnership project between University College London, Zoological Society of London, The Bat Conservation Trust, BatLife Europe, University of Auckland, and the Citizen Science Alliance.
Transportation researchers are asking the public for help this weekend in studying post-Sandy traffic patterns in New York City. Anyone with a smart phone can collect traffic data on Saturday, anywhere in Manhattan, using an application developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The researchers will analyze the data to learn about how traffic is affected by major disasters as part of the TrafficTurk project.
Researchers are hoping TrafficTurk can provide valuable, real-time information to police, emergency personnel, and the public, with the goal of helping traffic flow more smoothly during major events.
The University of Illinois team and transportation researchers from Columbia are collecting data in Times Square Friday afternoon, November 3. On Saturday, November 4, they will compile and analyze the data provided by volunteer members of the public.
The Citizen Sort Web site is designed to help biologists and ecologists with scientific classification tasks and to help information scientists and human-computer interaction researchers evaluate the role of motivation in citizen science. Citizen Sort needs the help of citizen scientists to classify species and aid the exploration of how motivation, citizen science and gaming all interact.
In the biological science space--particularly entomology, botany and oceanography-- experts, enthusiasts and curious members of the general public routinely collect and upload photographs of different living things. A photograph of an insect, plant or animal, tagged with the date and location where it was taken, can provide valuable scientific data, e.g., on how urban sprawl impacts local ecosystems or evidence of local, regional or global climactic shifts. However, to be useful, it is necessary to know what the picture is of, expressed in scientific terms, i.e., the scientific name of the species depicted. Some participants have the necessary knowledge (e.g., avid birders can generally identify particular bird species), but many potential participants do not. To support the biological science goal of image classification, we have developed several games and tools that let ordinary members of the public undertake to classify various photos of living things.
In the information science space, games have great potential as a motivator for participation and as a tool for producing high quality scientific data, so Citizen Sort lets us explore how different kinds of games and tools might make citizen science more fun for participants. In addition, Citizen Sort lets us explore how different kinds of players, games, and tools might produce different qualities of data in the biological sciences.
Citizens in Space, a project of the United States Rocket Academy, is dedicated to citizen science and citizen space exploration. Citizens in Space is a nonprofit project working with (not for) the companies developing new commercial spacecraft. Our goal is to enable ordinary people to fly in space as citizen astronauts (citizen space explorers) and to enable citizen scientists to fly experiments into space. For the first phase of our project, we have acquired an initial contract for 10 suborbital spaceflights with one of the new space transportation companies—XCOR Aerospace.
We will be making payload space on these flights available to citizen scientists. Professional researchers will be eligible, too, if they play by certain rules. We will fly these experiments free of charge, but any experiment submitted to us must be licensed as open-source hardware. We expect to fly up to 100 small experiments in our initial flight campaign. Our hope is that the experiment hardware developed through this project will be replicated widely by citizen scientists and flown many times on a wide variety of vehicles in the future. For information on the rules for submitting payloads, see the Call for Experiments.
Along with the general call for experiments, we are offering a $10,000 prize for one particularly interesting experiment in the High Altitude Astrobiology Challenge. We will also have a $5,000 reserve prize for the best experiment which does not win the High Altitude Astrobiology Challenge.
Zooniverse invites the public to help identify objects they see in images of the seafloor through a new interactive Web site called "Seafloor Explorer," the result of a collaboration between oceanographers studying seafloor habitats, Web programmers and social scientists.
Citizen scientists will indicate whether they see fish, scallops and other organisms in each image, provide basic measurements and describe whether the seafloor is sand or gravel, and whether they see boulders and other interesting objects in the frame.
The project's organizers have more than 40 million images, but have launched the site with a preliminary set of 100,000—all of them taken by HabCam, a habitat mapping underwater vehicle. HabCam was developed and built by the HabCam group, which comprises marine biologists and engineers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) as well as fishermen and other scientists. The Seafloor Explorer interactive Web site was funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and built in collaboration with the HabCam Group by the Citizen Science Alliance (CSA), the developers behind interactive sites found on Zooniverse.org.
CycloneCenter.org is a Web-based interface that enables the public to help analyze the intensities of past tropical cyclones around the globe. The global intensity record contains uncertainties caused by differences in analysis procedures around the world and through time.
Patterns in storm imagery are best recognized by the human eye, so scientists are enlisting the public. Interested volunteers will be shown one of nearly 300,000 satellite images. They will answer questions about that image as part of a simplified technique for estimating the maximum surface wind speed of tropical cyclones.
This public collaboration will perform more than a million classifications in just a few months—something it would take a team of scientists more than a decade to accomplish. The end product will be a new global tropical cyclone dataset that provides 3-hourly tropical cyclone intensity estimates, confidence intervals, and a wealth of other metadata that could not be realistically obtained in any other fashion.
The laughter of tiny babies is not just a phenomenally popular theme for YouTube videos, it is also a fantastic window into the workings of the human brain. You can’t laugh unless you get the joke. At the University of London's Birkbeck Babylab we study how babies learn about the world. We believe that studying early laughter in detail will throw new light on the workings of babies’ brains, as well as offering new insights into the uniquely human characteristic that is humor.
We are researching just what makes babies laugh by conducting the largest ever global survey of early laughter. If you are parent with a child under two, you can take the survey. It takes about 15-20 minutes to complete.
We are also interested on particular incidents that made your baby laugh. Who was present? What was so funny? You can file a 'field report'.
The Geo-Wiki Project is a global network of volunteers who wish to help improve the quality of global land-cover maps. Because large differences occur between existing global land-cover maps, current ecosystem and land-use science lacks crucial accurate data (for example, to determine the potential of additional agricultural land available to grow crops in Africa).
Citizen scientists are asked to review hot spot maps of global land-cover disagreement and determine, based on what they actually see in Google Earth and their local knowledge, if the land-cover maps are correct or incorrect. Their input is recorded in a database, along with uploaded photos, to be used in the future for the creation of a new and improved global land-cover map.
The project works with a global network of volunteers to help classify land cover and improve satellite maps and data for research in climate, food security, and biofuels. The team has a number of related projects including a new mobile phone app, and a Facebook game, which function both as social networks and to provide data for the effort to improve land-cover data.
Description: NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN in the 1970s with partner organizations as a volunteer program to help keep local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service.
SKYWARN storm spotters are part of the ranks of citizens who form the nation’s first line of defense against severe weather. Although SKYWARN spotters provide essential information for all types of weather hazards, the main responsibility of a SKYWARN spotter is to identify and describe severe local storms. In the average year, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States.
NWS encourages anyone with an interest in public service and access to communication, such HAM radio, to join the SKYWARN program. Volunteers include police and fire personnel, dispatchers, EMS workers, public utility workers and other concerned private citizens. Individuals affiliated with hospitals, schools, churches, nursing homes or who have a responsibility for protecting others are also encouraged to become a spotter.
Life on Earth started about three-and-a-half billion years ago. It's the tiny changes accumulating over a long, long time that got us here. Citizen scientists can see some of those tiny steps by joining the Evolution MegaLab.
The main focus of this research is the banded snails (Cepaea nemoralis and Cepaea hortensis), which can be found in almost any part of the U.K. where snails are generally present. Citizen scientists will seek out these snails and keep records of the locations where they are found using maps and satellite pictures on the Evolution MegaLab Web site.
The Canadian Lakes Loon Survey (CLLS) is a long-term, volunteer-based project designed to monitor the breeding success of loons on lakes across Canada. Its goals are to help conserve loons by engaging participants in monitoring and education activities, and use loon productivity as a long-term indicator of the health of freshwater lakes.
The CLLS was initiated in Ontario in 1981 by Bird Studies Canada, and expanded nationally in 1989. Human disturbance and development are ongoing threats to loons. Loon surveyors tell us they observe many activities that are detrimental to loons including: disturbance of nesting sites (as a result of boats, canoes, jet skiis, and water level changes); discarding of entangling debris (fishing lines and domestic garbage); inadvertently attracting and supporting nest predators (raccoons, skunks, and gulls); and displacement of loons through habitat loss.
Ultimately, local human disturbance can be minimized when people are sensitive to needs of loons. As more people move into loon country, promoting loon-friendly activities is increasingly important. Loon surveyors' continue to play a key educational role through distributing brochures, creating informative displays, erecting signs, building nest platforms, addressing local concerns, and, of course, tracking loon chick survival over their first, critical summer.
Citizen Scientists are needed to promote Loon-friendly lakes, build floating Loon nesting platforms, collect Loon eggs and carcasses and identify threats to these birds.
Putting names to species is fundamental to biodiversity science, conservation and education, yet it is a skill largely absent from formal biological education at all levels. Knowing the correct name of an organism is the key to learning about it, to sharing your observations with others and to contributing to the corpus of scientific knowledge. Un-named species are effectively invisible and impossible to conserve.
The social networking Web site iSpot is designed to remedy this. Our 20,000 citizen scientists share their observations and get help identifying what they've seen, building up reputation as they learn and making good identifications with the help of experts from more than 80 natural history societies.
We also have a sister site in South Africa that the South African National Biodiversity Institute use to engage the public in the process of identifying and mapping the unique flora and fauna of that region.
iSpot.org.uk is supported by the Big Lottery Fund for England, as part of the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) project, and by the Garfield Weston Foundation.
NASA scientists are interested in learning how clouds affect our atmosphere, particularly because clouds play a role in affecting Earth's overall temperature and energy balance. The space agency's Students' Cloud Observations Online (S'COOL) Project involves students (ages 5-20+) in real science, making and reporting ground truth observations of clouds to assist in the validation of NASA's CERES (Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System) satellite instruments.
Citizen scientists participating in S'COOL 1) obtain satellite overpass schedules, 2) observe and report clouds within +/-15 minutes of the satellite's passage, 3) compare and classify the agreement between the ground and satellite views.
Participation is available either as a classroom project or individually. Citizen scientist observations help NASA validate satellite data and give the space agency a more complete picture of clouds in the atmosphere and their interactions with other parts of the integrated global Earth system. Observations are sent to NASA for comparison to similar information obtained from satellites. Reports from a wide range of locations are helpful to assess the satellite data under different conditions.
The YardMap Network collects data by asking individuals across the country to literally draw maps of their backyards, parks, farms, favorite birding locations, schools and gardens. The network connects citizen scientists with their landscape details and provide tools for them to make better decisions about how to manage landscapes sustainably.
YardMap is also an interactive citizen scientist social network. Participants are instantly connected to the work of like-minded individuals in their neighborhoods, and across the country. Together they can become a conservation community focused on sharing strategies, maps and successes to build more bird habitat.
The project seeks to answer the following questions:
What practices improve the wildlife value of residential landscapes?
Which of these practices have the greatest impact?
Over how large an area do we have to implement these practices to really make a difference?
What impact do urban and suburban wildlife corridors and stopover habitats have on birds?
Which measures (bird counts? nesting success?) show the greatest impacts of our practices?
The Large Pelagics Research Center (LPRC), based in Gloucester, Mass., initiated its Tag A Tiny program in 2006 to study the annual migration paths and habitat use of juvenile Atlantic bluefin tuna. Through this co-operative tagging program, which uses tags from The Billfish Foundation (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) recreational anglers and charter captains catch, measure and release juvenile bluefin with conventional "spaghetti"-ID tags.
To date, 885 recreational fishermen have helped LPRC to tag 1,006 bluefin, mostly juveniles from one to four years old, and some "medium" size fish, nearing 180 centimeters. All of the records are entered into the Billfish Foundation, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) databases.
LPRC was established in 2003 at the University of New Hampshire and, in 2010, joined the Department of Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the Graduate School of Marine Science.
After being parasitized by the Apocephalus borealis fly, infected zombie-like bees abandon their hives and congregate near outside lights, moving in increasingly erratic circles before dying.
In response to this odd phenomenon researchers have launched ZomBeeWatch.org, a citizen science project to report possible sightings of the parasitized bees. The researchers hope to find out how far the parasite has spread and how many honeybee hives might be affected. So far, the Zombie Fly has been found parasitizing honeybees in California and South Dakota. Help researchers determine if the fly has spread to honeybees across North America.
The ZomBeeWatch site asks people to collect bees that appear to have died underneath outside lights, or appear to be behaving strangely under the lights, in a container or in a glassine envelope. They can then watch for signs that indicate the bee was parasitized by the fly, which usually deposits its eggs into a bee's abdomen. About seven days after the bee dies, fly larvae push their way into the world from between the bee’s head and thorax and form brown, pill-shaped pupae that are equivalent to a butterfly’s chrysalis.
The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) has renewed its call for citizen scientists to help its researchers capture key seismic data to improve scientific understanding of earthquakes, provide detailed information on how they shape Southern California and aid earthquake emergency response efforts.
Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative project sponsored by the National Science Foundation in which earthquake scientists around Southern California enlist volunteers to deploy small, easy-to-install seismic sensors in their homes, offices and other locations that have a computer with Internet connectivity. The project is conducted by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at U.C. San Diego, California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley, University of Delaware and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
National Moth Week brings together everyone interested in moths to celebrate these amazing insects. This summer, groups and individuals from across the country will spend some time during National Moth Week looking for moths and sharing what they've found. To get involved during National Moth Week: attend a National Moth Night event, start an event, join friends and neighbors to check porch lights from time to time, set up a light and see what is in your own backyard, or read literature about moths, etc.
With more than 10,000 species in North America alone, moths offer endless options for study, education, photography, and fun. Moths can be found everywhere from inner cities and suburban backyards, to the most wild and remote places. Their colors and patterns range from bright and dazzling, to so cryptic that they define camouflage. Moth shapes and sizes span the gamut, with some as small as a pinhead and others as large as a hand.
Most moths are nocturnal and need to be sought at night to be seen, but others fly like butterflies during the day. Finding moths can be as simple as leaving a porch light on and checking it after dark. Serious moth aficionados use special lights and baits to attract them.
For more than a century researchers have been unearthing known and unknown literary texts as well as the private documents and letters that could improve their understanding of the ancient lives of Graeco-Roman Egypt. Yet many of these papyri have remained unstudied due to a lack of resources. These writings have been digitized, but there is such a large number of images to examine that the researchers are inviting volunteers to help catalogue and transcribe the text via the Web.
Zooniverse has set up the Ancient Lives project to help Oxford papyrologists and researchers, the Imaging Papyri Project, the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Project, the Egypt Exploration Society and other institutions with this work. For more details, visit the Ancient Lives site.
Humans' inborn "number sense" improves during school years, declines during old age and remains linked throughout the entire lifespan to academic mathematics achievement. So says a Johns Hopkins University study that has used the Web to collect data from more than 10,000 people ages 11 to 85. "Number sense" describes human and animals' inborn ability to intuitively size up the number of objects in their everyday environments.
Citizen scientists can take the same test used in this experiment by visiting the Panamath Web site. During the test, participants see a random number of circles on screen for 600 milliseconds (0.6 seconds). Their job is to decide whether there were more yellow circles or more blue circles.
Panamath measures a participant's Approximate Number System (ANS) aptitude. The simple task of deciding whether there are more blue dots or yellow dots in a brief flash says a lot about the accuracy of one's basic gut sense for numbers. Participants can view the results of their test immediately afterward and compare their performance with others in their age group.
Alan Turing, perhaps best known for helping crack Germany's Enigma Code during World War II, was fascinated by how math works in nature. Turing noticed that the Fibonacci sequence, often occurred in sunflower seed heads. (By definition, the first two numbers in the Fibonacci sequence are 0 and 1, and each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two.) He hoped that by studying the plant it might help us understand how plants grow but died before he could finish his work.
MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester), the Manchester Science Festival and The University of Manchester are paying tribute to Turing in a mass experiment to grow 3,000 sunflowers. If enough people grow, researchers can collect sufficient data to put Turing's and other scientists' theories to the test.
All participants in the Turing's Sunflower's project need to do is grow a sunflower, keep the seed head and take part in the head count in September and October. For that, participants will be able to take their seed head to one of our special counting locations, or post their 'spiral counts' online. Researchers at The University of Manchester will then collate the data, and the results will be announced during the Manchester Science Festival, which runs from October 27 through November 4. Everyone who submits data from their sunflower will be included as part of the Turing's Sunflowers group and referred to in academic publications that result from the experiment.
Citizen scientists can help notify researchers when orcas are in the Salish Sea, a network of coastal waterways located between the southwestern tip of Canada's British Columbia and the northwestern tip of Washington State.
The Salish Sea Hydrophone Network is looking for volunteers to help monitor the critical habitat of endangered Pacific Northwest killer whales by detecting orca sounds and measuring ambient noise levels. Volunteers are especially needed to help notify researchers when orcas are in the Salish Sea, which encompasses the waters of Puget Sound and the surrounding area.
Sponsored by a coalition of organizations, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Whale Museum in Olympia, Wash., the network consists of five hydrophones, microphones used underwater for recording or listening to underwater sounds. Each hydrophone is hooked up to a computer to analyze the signal and stream it via the Internet.
Even though software is used to distinguish animal from other underwater sound, human ears do a better job. So volunteers monitor the network from their home computers anywhere in the world, and alert the rest of the network when they hear whale sounds. Sometimes boats or onshore monitors are deployed to observe the whales while they are making sounds. Researchers hope to learn more about the uses of orca communications and whale migration patterns.
The Lowell Amateur Research Initiative (LARI) is looking to engage the ever-growing and technically sophisticated amateur astronomy community in some exciting research projects with astronomers at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz.
LARI brings together professional and amateur astronomers in a way that affords interested amateurs an opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research and potentially make significant contributions to science.
Lowell astronomers are conducting several projects that would benefit from the participation of amateur astronomers and citizen scientists. These projects span a broad range of technical skills and knowledge from taking very deep images of galaxies to monitoring small stars for transient events to data mining. After getting a sense of your skills and interests, we will do our best to match you with the appropriate researcher and project.
The next transit of Venus occurs June 5 or 6, 2012, depending on your location. Observers in North America see it the evening of June 5. This will be the last transit of Venus to occur in your lifetime. The next transit of Venus occurs in December 2117.
Mercury and Venus are the only planets closer to the Sun than Earth, both moving faster in their orbits and passing us regularly. But rather than crossing directly between us and the Sun, these planets are usually slightly above or below the Sun as we see them. When they line up just right we see the round, black silhouette of the planet slowly crossing the Sun, an even referred to as a "transit." Mercury transits the Sun 13 or 14 times each century. But Venus transits happen in pairs—two transits eight years apart—with more than 100 years between each pair.
When Venus passes directly between earth and the sun, we see the distant planet as a small dot gliding slowly across the face of the sun. Historically, this rare alignment is how we measured the size of our solar system.
Astronomers Without Borders has some special plans for this rare event, which will be seen by most of the world's population. The coming Venus transit offers a chance for modern-day stargazers to repeat the experiments conducted by expeditions around the world in the 18th and 19th centuries—with a modern twist. The free phone app created by the Transit of Venus Project allows every observer with a telescope to record timings of this rare event. Available for Apple and Android devices.
Native Buzz is a Citizen Science project created by the University of Florida (U.F.) Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab. The goal is to learn more about the nesting preferences, diversity and distribution of native solitary bees and wasps, share the information gained and provide a forum for those interested in participating in the science and art of indigenous beekeeping (and wasp-keeping!). At U.F. Native Buzz, citizen scientists can keep track of their own native buzz nest site and see the results of other participant's nest sites.
WildObs (from "wildlife observations") captures memorable wildlife encounters, and puts them to work. Record your encounters for your own studies, or enjoyment, via your smart phone (apps are available for iPhone, iPod Touch and Android devices). Use these records to develop your own wildlife calendar for the year. Maintain and grow your life-list, learn about new species and connect with nature.
As a wildlife community we help each other find the nature we want (for a photograph or close encounter), and we can learn about the species in our neighborhoods.
Additionally, WildObs is a partner of the National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Watch, and works with a number of other scientific studies to extract citizen science from recorded encounters.
Deadline: Jul 25 2013
This challenge provides an opportunity for Solvers to build a web-based or mobile “app” to explore data relationships in scholarly conte
Deadline: Jun 29 2013
Reward: $7,000 USD
The Seeker for this Challenge desires proposals for chemical methods that could rapidly degrade a dilute aqueous solution
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