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.
World Water Monitoring Challenge (WWMC) is an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizen scientists to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies.
The WWMC grew out of the World Water Monitoring Day program in 2012. While an official “day” continues to be observed each year on September 18, the broader “challenge” encourages people everywhere to test the quality of their waterways, share their findings, and protect our most precious resource. The program runs annually from March 22 (the United Nations World Water Day) until December 31.
The primary goal of World Water Monitoring Challenge is to educate and engage citizens in the protection of the world’s water resources, as many people are unaware of the impact their behaviors have on water quality. Conducting simple monitoring tests teaches participants about some of the most common indicators of water health and encourages further participation in more formal citizen monitoring efforts. Results are shared with participating communities around the globe through the WWMC Web site.
Coordinated by the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the International Water Association (IWA), the WWMC sells individual and classroom water-testing kits for sampling local water bodies for basic water quality parameters: temperature, acidity (pH), clarity (turbidity), and dissolved oxygen. Each kit contains an informative instruction book and enough reagents to repeat up to 50 tests.
In association with the Human Food Project, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder along with researchers at other institutions around the world are launching a new open-access project known as “American Gut” in which participants can get involved in finding out what microbes are in their own guts and what they are doing in there.
The project builds on previous efforts, including the five-year, $173-million NIH-funded Human Microbiome Project, to characterize the microbes living in and on our bodies. But unlike other projects that have focused on carefully chosen test subjects with a few hundred people, this project allows the public to get involved and is encouraging tens of thousands of people to do so.
The American Gut project is an opportunity for the citizen scientists working with a team of leading researchers and labs throughout the United States to help shape a new way of understanding how diet and lifestyle may contribute to human health through each person’s suite of trillions of tiny microbes.
The Large Pelagics Research Center (LPRC), based in Gloucester, Mass., initiated its Tag A Tiny program in 2006 to study the annual migration paths and habitat use of juvenile Atlantic bluefin tuna. Through this co-operative tagging program, which uses tags from The Billfish Foundation (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) recreational anglers and charter captains catch, measure and release juvenile bluefin with conventional "spaghetti"-ID tags.
To date, 885 recreational fishermen have helped LPRC to tag 1,006 bluefin, mostly juveniles from one to four years old, and some "medium" size fish, nearing 180 centimeters. All of the records are entered into the Billfish Foundation, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) databases.
LPRC was established in 2003 at the University of New Hampshire and, in 2010, joined the Department of Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the Graduate School of Marine Science.
The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) has renewed its call for citizen scientists to help its researchers capture key seismic data to improve scientific understanding of earthquakes, provide detailed information on how they shape Southern California and aid earthquake emergency response efforts.
Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative project sponsored by the National Science Foundation in which earthquake scientists around Southern California enlist volunteers to deploy small, easy-to-install seismic sensors in their homes, offices and other locations that have a computer with Internet connectivity. The project is conducted by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at U.C. San Diego, California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley, University of Delaware and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) is a citizen science project involving volunteers from across the United States and Canada in monarch research. It was developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota to collect long-term data on larval monarch populations and milkweed habitat.
The overarching goal of the project is to better understand how and why monarch populations vary in time and space, with a focus on monarch distribution and abundance during the breeding season in North America.
This project should not be confused with Project MonarchHealth.
Thousands of FeederWatchers in communities across North America count birds and send their tallies to the FeederWatch database, creating a treasure trove of statistics that FeederWatch scientists analyze to draw a picture of winter bird abundance and distribution. FeederWatch data show which bird species visit feeders at thousands of locations across the continent every winter. The data also indicate how many individuals of each species are seen. This information can be used to measure changes in the winter ranges and abundances of bird species over time.
FeederWatch data provide a picture of weekly changes in bird distribution and abundance across the United States and Canada. Importantly, FeederWatch data tell us where birds are as well as where they are not. This crucial information enables scientists to piece together the most accurate population maps.
FeederWatch is a joint research and education project of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. They have provided an instructional video on the FeederWatchers Web site.
Rainlog.org is a cooperative rainfall monitoring network for Arizona developed at The University of Arizona by SAHRA (Sustainability of semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas) and the school's cooperative extension. Data collected through this network will be used for a variety of applications, including watershed management activities and drought planning at local, county and state levels.
Official rain gauges in Arizona are few and far between. The large gaps in coverage are a particular problem where precipitation amounts are highly variable due to topography and seasonal weather patterns. This is especially true during the monsoon season, when thunderstorms can produce heavy rainfall that is very localized.
All data posted by volunteers is available in real-time in maps useful in tracking high-resolution variability in precipitation patterns and potential changes in drought status. As more people participate and more information is gathered, the resolution of the maps will improve.
Citizen scientists are asked to track daily or monthly precipitation amounts. Daily observations should ideally be recorded as close to 7 a.m. as possible. Each daily observation will cover the previous 24 hours and represent the previous calendar day. This is consistent with the National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Program monitoring protocol.
The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) is a collaborative initiative for developing the world's largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to Internet-connected computers. Volunteers can help the Quake-Catcher Network provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards.
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Deadline: Jan 11 2014
Reward: $20,000 USD
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