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.


  • IceWatch USA The Sciences

    IceWatch USA

    Help researchers study how seasonal differences in the ice cover of lakes, rivers and other areas impact ecosystems

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Melinda Hughes-Wert and James Wert DATES: Ongoing
  • RinkWatch The Sciences


    Climate science and sports collide as researchers track outdoor skating days for signs of environmental change

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Colin Robertson, Assistant Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey The Sciences

    Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey

    Hunters can help the N.Y. State Department of Conservation keep tabs on important game birds

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Joe Martens, Commissioner DATES: Ongoing
  • Geo-Wiki Project Tech

    Geo-Wiki Project

    Help researchers improve the quality of global land-cover maps

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Steffen Fritz, Research Scholar DATES: Ongoing
  • SKYWARN The Sciences


    Volunteer locally to help the National Weather Service (NWS) provide storm warnings

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Run by local Warning Coordination Meteorologists DATES: Ongoing
  • Canadian Lakes Loon Survey (CLLS) The Sciences

    Canadian Lakes Loon Survey (CLLS)

    Monitor and help prevent threats to loons on lakes across Canada

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Art Martell, Chair DATES: Ongoing
  • iSpot The Sciences


    Learn more about wildlife, share your interest with a friendly community and get help identifying what you have seen

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jonathan Silvertown DATES: Ongoing
  • Students' Cloud Observations Online (S'COOL) The Sciences

    Students' Cloud Observations Online (S'COOL)

    Help NASA scientists better understand the impact that clouds have on Earth's atmosphere

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Lin Chambers, the lead for the S'COOL program DATES: Ongoing
  • ZomBee Watch The Sciences

    ZomBee Watch

    Help scientists track and study parasitized honeybees that have been turned into zombies

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: John Hafernik DATES: Ongoing
  • National Moth Week July 2012 The Sciences

    National Moth Week July 2012

    Explore and record America's more than 10,000 moth species

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: David Moskowitz and Liti Haramaty DATES: Monday, July 23, 2012 - Sunday, July 29, 2012
  • Panamath Mind


    Test your inborn ability to intuitively size up the number of objects in your everyday environment

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Justin Halberda DATES: Ongoing
  • Turing's Sunflowers The Sciences

    Turing's Sunflowers

    Grow sunflowers and put the mathematical theories of Alan Turing and other researchers to the test

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jonathan Swinton and Erinma Ochu DATES: Ongoing
  • Killer Whale Tracker The Sciences

    Killer Whale Tracker

    Monitor endangered Pacific Northwest killer whales by detecting orca sounds and measuring noise levels using hydrophones

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  • Lowell Amateur Research Initiative (LARI) Physics

    Lowell Amateur Research Initiative (LARI)

    Amateur astronomers can work on research projects with Lowell Observatory researchers

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  • Transit of Venus Computing

    Transit of Venus

    The 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

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Steven van Roode DATES: Ongoing
  • WildObs Tech


    Record and share your photos and observations about wildlife

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  • Wildlife Health Event Reporter The Sciences

    Wildlife Health Event Reporter

    Citizen scientists engaging in their regular work or recreational activities have tremendous potential to observe and record events that may identify important changes in the environment

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  • Update: Nature's Notebook The Sciences

    Update: Nature's Notebook

    Phenological citizen science project anticipates recording its millionth observation

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jake Weltzin, Executive Director DATES: Ongoing
  • Solar-Storm Watch Climate

    Solar-Storm Watch

    Help solar scientists spot explosions on the sun and track them across space to Earth

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Chris Davis, Project Scientist DATES: Ongoing

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