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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

  • New York Horseshoe Monitoring Network More Science

    New York Horseshoe Monitoring Network

    Help researchers collect data and to acquire biological information on horseshoe crabs in New York’s Marine District

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Matthew Sclafani/John Maniscalo DATES: Ongoing
  • iSeahorse More Science

    iSeahorse

    A tool for improving scientists’ understanding of seahorses and protecting them from overfishing and other threats

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Amanda Vincent DATES: Ongoing
  • Ocean Sampling Day (OSD) More Science

    Ocean Sampling Day (OSD)

    Help marine scientists worldwide study ocean samples taken during the 2014 summer solstice

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Julia Schnetzer, Ph.D. student DATES: Saturday, June 21, 2014 - Saturday, June 21, 2014
  • Nerds for Nature: Mt. Diablo Morgan Fire Energy & Sustainability

    Nerds for Nature: Mt. Diablo Morgan Fire

    Citizen scientists help document the recovery of charred Mt. Diablo

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • MySwan (Australia) More Science

    MySwan (Australia)

    Australians can help scientists study black swans living at Albert Park Lake, in the urban heart of Melbourne

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Raoul Mulder, Associate Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Where's the Elderberry Longhorn Beetle? More Science

    Where's the Elderberry Longhorn Beetle?

    Help an evolutionary biologist and entomologist track the declining population of Elderberry Longhorn Beetle

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Dan Duran, Assistant Teaching Professor DATES: Ongoing
  • Mountain Watch More Science

    Mountain Watch

    Hikers, families, school groups and conservationists can help scientists make observations along the U.S.’s Eastern Appalachian mountains and other northeast areas

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Georgia Murray, Staff Scientist DATES: Ongoing
  • SatCam Technology

    SatCam

    Capture observations of sky and ground conditions at the same time that an Earth observation satellite is overhead

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Liam Gumley DATES: Ongoing
  • Air Visibility Monitoring Science Education

    Air Visibility Monitoring

    Help USC researchers study air visibility using an Android smartphone and app

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Gaurav Sukhatme, Professor and Director DATES: Ongoing
  • How Radioactive Is Our Ocean? Health

    How Radioactive Is Our Ocean?

    Help U.S. marine scientists monitor the spread of radiation across the Pacific Ocean from Japan’s damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Ken Buesseler, Senior Scientist DATES: Ongoing
  • Astro Drone Crowdsourcing Game Technology

    Astro Drone Crowdsourcing Game

    If you own a Parrot AR.Drone Quadricopter, you can participate in the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Astro Drone crowdsourcing game to help improve robot vision

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: Paul K. Gerke, I.G. Sprinkhuizen-Kuyper, Guido C.H.E. de Croon 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Creek Watch More Science

    Creek Watch

    Monitor the health of your local watershed

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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
  • World Water Monitoring Challenge More Science

    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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    PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: N/A DATES: Ongoing
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