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.


  • Creek Watch The Sciences

    Creek Watch

    Monitor the health of your local watershed

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  • World Water Monitoring Challenge The Sciences

    World Water Monitoring Challenge

    Citizen scientists can join the World Water Monitoring Challenge to test the quality of their waterways, share their findings and protect our most precious resource

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  • The School of Ants The Sciences

    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 The Sciences

    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 Ecology

    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 The Sciences

    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
  • BioTrails The Sciences


    Monitor animal and plant species in Maine’s Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park area

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Karen James, Program Director DATES: Ongoing
  • Secchi Marine Phytoplankton App The Sciences

    Secchi Marine Phytoplankton App

    Help researchers better understand the phytoplankton that underpin the entire marine food chain

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Richard Kirby, plankton biologist DATES: Ongoing
  • Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) The Sciences

    Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST)

    Want to play an active role in marine conservation?

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Julia Parrish, Executive Director DATES: Ongoing
  • Marine Debris Tracker The Sciences

    Marine Debris Tracker

    Help scientists map trash on coastlines and waterways

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jenna Jambeck, Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering DATES: Ongoing
  • BioCurious DIY BioPrinter Tech

    BioCurious DIY BioPrinter

    Join BioPrinter community project

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Eri Gentry, Executive Director DATES: Ongoing
  • Roadkill Survey for Road Bikers The Sciences

    Roadkill Survey for Road Bikers

    Help ecologists better understand the impact of roadways on wildlife by submitting information about road kill

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Gregg Treinish, Founder/Executive Director DATES: Ongoing
  • Space Hacker Workshop Tech

    Space Hacker Workshop

    Learn how to do "space on the cheap" at this two-day event May 4-5, 2013

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Edward Wright, Chairman DATES: Saturday, May 4, 2013 - Sunday, May 5, 2013
  • Project MERCCURI The Sciences

    Project MERCCURI

    Collect microbial samples on Earth and compare them with microbes found on the International Space Station (ISS)

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Jonathan Eisen, Professor DATES: Thursday, April 11, 2013 - Sunday, September 1, 2013
  • Cicada Tracker The Sciences

    Cicada Tracker

    Help biologists study the next emergence of these locustlike insects in the eastern U.S.

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: John Cooley, Research Scientist DATES: Monday, April 15, 2013 - Saturday, August 31, 2013
  • Louisiana Bucket Brigade (LABB) Health

    Louisiana Bucket Brigade (LABB)

    Form a citizen-science bucket brigade to study the environmental health of your community

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  • Play with Your Dog The Sciences

    Play with Your Dog

    Help researchers investigate canine behavior by sending video of time spent playing with your furry friends [DEADLINE: MARCH 31, 2013]

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Alexandra Horowitz and Julie Hecht DATES: Ongoing
  • American Gut Health

    American Gut

    An open-source, community-driven effort to characterize the microbial diversity of the American public

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  • TrafficTurk Tech


    Researchers study post-Sandy traffic patterns in New York City via a downloadable app

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Dan Work, Assistant Professor DATES: Friday, November 2, 2012 - Saturday, November 3, 2012

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