Cicada Tracker

Cicada Tracker

Public radio station WNYC invites families, armchair scientists and lovers of nature to join in a bit of mass science: Track the cicadas that emerge once every 17 years across New Jersey, New York State and the whole Northeast by building homemade sensors and reporting your observations.

Magicicada Brood II will make its 17-year appearance when the ground eight inches down is a steady 64 degrees Fahrenheit/17.8 degrees Celsius. Help predict the arrival by planting a homemade temperature sensor in the ground and reporting your findings back to WNYC. We'll put them on a map and share your observations of this once-in-a-generation discovery with our entire community.

The whole detector costs about $80 in parts and takes about two hours to build. You'll want it in the ground by mid-April, the earliest the cicadas are likely to emerge.

Project Details

  • PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST: John Cooley, Research Scientist
  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: University of Connecticut, Storrs
  • DATES: Monday, April 15, 2013 - Saturday, August 31, 2013
  • LOCATION: - Eastern United States
  • PROJECT TYPE: Fieldwork
  • COST: More than $50
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages

    Contact research scientist and project leader John Cooley,

See more projects in More than $50FieldworkAll Ages.

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.

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