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What Is Citizen Science?

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.

Projects

  • Citizen Science Soil Collection Program More Science

    Citizen Science Soil Collection Program

    Help University of Oklahoma scientists study microscopic life in search of new drug compounds

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Robert Cichewicz DATES: Ongoing
  • Asteroid Data Hunter Technology

    Asteroid Data Hunter

    Protecting the Earth from the threat of asteroid impacts means first knowing where they are

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Migratory Dragonfly Partnership More Science

    Migratory Dragonfly Partnership

    Join a growing citizen science community working together to increase knowledge about North America’s five main migratory dragonfly species

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Celeste Mazzacano DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Science Gossip Technology

    Zooniverse: Science Gossip

    Help researchers classify Victorian-era science drawings and map the origins of citizen science

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Reverse the Odds Technology

    Reverse the Odds

    Analyze real cancer data by playing a mobile game

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Anne Kiltie and Gareth Thomas DATES: Ongoing
  • Nanocrafter More Science

    Nanocrafter

    A game that challenges players to build nanoscale devices using small pieces of DNA

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Weather-IT Technology

    Weather-IT

    A series of weather-related citizen science projects

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Maria Aristeidou DATES: Ongoing
  • Mitten Crab Watch More Science

    Mitten Crab Watch

    Help scientists track the invasive Mitten Crab threatening U.S. waters

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Ignore That! Mind & Brain

    Ignore That!

    Help researchers better understand people’s ability to ignore unnecessary information

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Joshua Hartshorne DATES: Ongoing
  • Fatty Acids: The 6th Taste? (Denver, Colo.) More Science

    Fatty Acids: The 6th Taste? (Denver, Colo.)

    Help Denver’s community-based Genetics of Taste Lab explore the possibility that there are more than just the five known tastes of sweet, sour, salty, umami (savory) and bitter

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Nicole Garneau/Richard Mattes DATES: Ongoing
  • Lost at Night Space

    Lost at Night

    Help astrophysicists georeference the position of cities which appear in images taken from the International Space Station (ISS)

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: José Gómez Castaño DATES: Ongoing
  • Marine Metre Squared More Science

    Marine Metre Squared

    New Zealand citizen scientists monitor the diversity living things found on beaches

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Asteroid Zoo Space

    Zooniverse: Asteroid Zoo

    Scientists scanning our solar system need your help to find asteroids for the exploration of their mineral properties

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Penguin Watch Evolution

    Zooniverse: Penguin Watch

    Join researchers in sorting through 200,000-plus penguin images to help improve efforts at penguin conservation

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Floating Forests More Science

    Zooniverse: Floating Forests

    Help scientists uncover the history of Giant Kelp forests around the globe

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Various DATES: Ongoing
  • The Seabird Ecological Assessment Network (SEANET) More Science

    The Seabird Ecological Assessment Network (SEANET)

    Conduct year-round beached bird surveys in order to identify and record information about bird mortality along the eastern coast of the United States

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Julie Ellis, Research Assistant Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • LifeScanner More Science

    LifeScanner

    Discover the diversity of living organisms around you and contribute to a global knowledge base on biological diversity

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sujeevan Ratnasingham, Director of Informatics DATES: Ongoing
  • New England Basking Shark and Ocean Sunfish Project More Science

    New England Basking Shark and Ocean Sunfish Project

    Help researchers learn about the biology and ecology of the second-largest living fish

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • National Moth Week 2014 More Science

    National Moth Week 2014

    National Moth Week 2014 kicks off July 19 worldwide and offers dozens of opportunities for Citizen Scientists

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: David Moskowitz and Liti Haramaty DATES: Saturday, July 19, 2014 - Sunday, July 27, 2014

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