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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

  • 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
  • iCoast: Did the Coast Change? More Science

    iCoast: Did the Coast Change?

    Help U.S. Geological Survey scientists study storm aftermaths and coastal changes

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sophia Liu DATES: Ongoing
  • New York Horseshoe Monitoring Network More Science

    New York Horseshoe Monitoring Network

    Help researchers collect data and to acquire biological information on horseshoe crabs in New York’s Marine District

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Matthew Sclafani/John Maniscalo DATES: Ongoing
  • iSeahorse More Science

    iSeahorse

    A tool for improving scientists’ understanding of seahorses and protecting them from overfishing and other threats

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Amanda Vincent DATES: Ongoing
  • Ocean Sampling Day (OSD) More Science

    Ocean Sampling Day (OSD)

    Help marine scientists worldwide study ocean samples taken during the 2014 summer solstice

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Julia Schnetzer, Ph.D. student DATES: Saturday, June 21, 2014 - Saturday, June 21, 2014
  • MySwan (Australia) More Science

    MySwan (Australia)

    Australians can help scientists study black swans living at Albert Park Lake, in the urban heart of Melbourne

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Raoul Mulder, Associate Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Where's the Elderberry Longhorn Beetle? More Science

    Where's the Elderberry Longhorn Beetle?

    Help an evolutionary biologist and entomologist track the declining population of Elderberry Longhorn Beetle

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Dan Duran, Assistant Teaching Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Mountain Watch More Science

    Mountain Watch

    Hikers, families, school groups and conservationists can help scientists make observations along the U.S.’s Eastern Appalachian mountains and other northeast areas

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Georgia Murray, Staff Scientist DATES: Ongoing
  • iSeeChange Everyday Science

    iSeeChange

    Contribute to a socially networked weather Almanac for communities to collectively journal climate observations, questions and decisions against near-real time climate information

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Julia Kumari Drapkin DATES: Ongoing
  • SatCam Technology

    SatCam

    Capture observations of sky and ground conditions at the same time that an Earth observation satellite is overhead

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Liam Gumley DATES: Ongoing
  • Clock Your Sleep Everyday Science

    Clock Your Sleep

    Track your slumber in the city that never sleeps, and elsewhere

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Air Visibility Monitoring Science Education

    Air Visibility Monitoring

    Help USC researchers study air visibility using an Android smartphone and app

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Gaurav Sukhatme, Professor and Director DATES: Ongoing
  • Happy Match Biology

    Happy Match

    In this twist on the on the classic quiz game, players participate in scientific research by classifying photos of animal, plant and insect species

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Kevin Crowston and Jun Wang DATES: Ongoing
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