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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

  • Snowtweets More Science

    Snowtweets

    Tweet data about snow depths in your area

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Richard Kelly, Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Management DATES: Ongoing
  • IceWatch USA More Science

    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
  • Zooniverse: Snapshot Serengeti More Science

    Zooniverse: Snapshot Serengeti

    Help researchers identify animals photographed in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park—from the safety and comfort of your computer

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Craig Packer, Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • RinkWatch More Science

    RinkWatch

    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
  • Play with Your Dog More Science

    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
  • Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey More Science

    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
  • Bat Detective More Science

    Bat Detective

    Help researchers identify and classify bat calls

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Kate Jones, Professor of Ecology and Biodiversity DATES: Ongoing
  • TrafficTurk Technology

    TrafficTurk

    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
  • Citizen Sort Technology

    Citizen Sort

    A Web site with tools and games to classify various species of insects, animals and plants

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Kevin Crowston, Professor of Information Science DATES: Ongoing
  • Citizens in Space Space

    Citizens in Space

    Citizen scientists are invited to submit experiments that may be flown into space on board commercial flights

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Edward Wright, Chairman DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse Seafloor Explorer Technology

    Zooniverse Seafloor Explorer

    Identify species and ground cover in images of the seafloor, and help create a library of seafloor life in the habitats along the northeast continental shelf

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Scott Gallager, Biologist DATES: Ongoing
  • Zooniverse CycloneCenter Technology

    Zooniverse CycloneCenter

    Help scientists analyze the intensities of past tropical cyclones around the globe

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Chris Hennon DATES: Ongoing
  • The Baby Laughter Project Mind & Brain

    The Baby Laughter Project

    Citizen scientists help study what makes babies laugh

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Mark Johnson, Director DATES: Ongoing
  • Geo-Wiki Project Technology

    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 More Science

    SKYWARN

    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
  • Evolution Megalab Evolution

    Evolution Megalab

    Start your own banded snail hunt and learn about evolution first hand

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Robert Cameron, professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Canadian Lakes Loon Survey (CLLS) More Science

    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 More Science

    iSpot

    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) More Science

    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
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