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.


  • AgeGuess Mind


    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


    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 The Sciences


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

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  • Zooniverse: Plankton Portal The Sciences

    Zooniverse: Plankton Portal

    No plankton = No life in the ocean

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Robert Cowen DATES: Ongoing
  • Creek Watch The Sciences

    Creek Watch

    Monitor the health of your local watershed

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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
  • The VerbCorner Project Mind

    The VerbCorner Project

    Help researchers better understand the role of verbs in communication

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Joshua Hartshorne, Post-Doctoral Fellow 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
  • Zooniverse: Worm Watch Lab The Sciences

    Zooniverse: Worm Watch Lab

    One little worm can help scientists understand big genetic mysteries

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  • NOVA Sun Lab Everyday Science

    NOVA Sun Lab

    Help scientists predict solar storms

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  • Aurorasaurus Everyday Science


    The goal of Aurorasaurus is to collect observations of the aurora borealis and synthesize them into predictions of what the aurora is or will soon be doing

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Elizabeth MacDonald DATES: Ongoing
  • Ventus Project Sustainability

    Ventus Project

    Help researchers locate and count all the carbon dioxide at the world's power plants

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Kevin Gurney, Associate Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Digital Fishers The Sciences

    Digital Fishers

    Looking for a few hundred thousand citizen scientists to help analyze 15-second deep-sea videos

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Rod Dobell, Senior Research Associate DATES: Ongoing
  • Space Warps [Zooniverse] Everyday Science

    Space Warps [Zooniverse]

    Help spot rare gravitational lenses in the distant universe

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Arfon Smith, Director of Citizen Science 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
  • Zooniverse: Notes from Nature The Sciences

    Zooniverse: Notes from Nature

    Help make information about natural history collections available via the Internet

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Arfon Smith, Director of Citizen Science DATES: Ongoing

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