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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

  • Weddell Seal Population Count More Science

    Weddell Seal Population Count

    Help scientists in the field monitor the Weddell seal population in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jay Rotella, Robert Garrott and Don Siniff DATES: Ongoing
  • Flusurvey Health

    Flusurvey

    Feeling sick in the U.K. or Europe? At least it won’t interfere with your citizen science work

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Alma Adler & John Edmunds (UK) DATES: Ongoing
  • The Snowtweets Project More Science

    The Snowtweets Project

    Citizen scientists can help Canadian researchers map snow depths worldwide using Twitter

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Richard Kelly, Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • SENSR Technology

    SENSR

    A tool to create, share and manage a citizen science project running on mobile devices to harness the power of citizen scientists

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sunyoung Kim, PhD Candidate DATES: Ongoing
  • Poo Power! More Science

    Poo Power!

    Fight back against dog poo discarded on the streets (and sidewalks)

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Duncan Chew/Mia Cobb DATES: Ongoing
  • What's Invasive! More Science

    What's Invasive!

    Locate and identify invasive species to alert experts about the spread of habitat-destroying flora and fauna

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • NoiseTube Technology

    NoiseTube

    Participate in the collective noise mapping of your city or neighborhood

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Ellie D'Hondt DATES: Ongoing
  • Kinsey Reporter More Science

    Kinsey Reporter

    Citizen observers report on sexual behavior and experiences as well as share, explore and visualize the accumulated data

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Loss of the Night Space

    Loss of the Night

    Help researchers measure light pollution and better understand its impact on the environment

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Franz Hölker DATES: Ongoing
  • Spiders in Your World More Science

    Spiders in Your World

    Join the Explorit’s Community Science Project by finding and recording spiders in your home or neighborhood

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • AgeGuess Mind & Brain

    AgeGuess

    A citizen science project that lets you guess people's ages--without fear of offending them!

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Uli Steiner and Dusan Misevic DATES: Ongoing
  • NanoDoc Health

    NanoDoc

    An online game that allows bioengineers and the general public to design new nanoparticle strategies towards the treatment of cancer

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Sangeeta Bhatia, Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Treezilla More Science

    Treezilla

    A mapping project based in Great Britain that challenges citizen scientists to map every tree in that country

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse: Plankton Portal More Science

    Zooniverse: Plankton Portal

    No plankton = No life in the ocean

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Robert Cowen DATES: Ongoing
  • Creek Watch More Science

    Creek Watch

    Monitor the health of your local watershed

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • The School of Ants More Science

    The School of Ants

    The School of Ants project studies ants that live in urban areas, particularly around homes and schools

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Andrea Lucky DATES: Ongoing
  • The Great Eggcase Hunt Project More Science

    The Great Eggcase Hunt Project

    The Great Eggcase Hunt aims to get as many people as possible hunting for egg cases that have either been washed ashore or found by divers and snorkelers underwater

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Ali Hood, Director of Conservation DATES: Ongoing
  • National Cockroach Project Evolution

    National Cockroach Project

    High school students and other citizen scientists collecting and helping analyze American cockroaches using DNA barcoding

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Mark Stoeckle, Senior Research Associate DATES: Ongoing
  • Shark Savers SharksCount More Science

    Shark Savers SharksCount

    Recreational divers can help marine researchers log, count and identify the sharks they see during their dives

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Samantha Whitcraft, Director of Programs DATES: Ongoing
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