Archive for the ‘Citizen Science’ Category

Citizen Scientists, Citizen Educators

By December 3rd, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Comment

When most people think about citizen scientists, they tend to think of them as data collectors, volunteering their time to report wildlife sightings, gather microbe samples, or transcribe old weather reports. It’s true that data collection is the primary task of most citizen scientists, but many volunteers take their participation a step further by designing experiments, analyzing data, and conducting education and outreach. The last task is the one that I think is the most interesting and accessible to citizen scientists.

Citizen science volunteers have the potential to play a significant role in outreach and education. Many citizen scientists are truly passionate about the projects with which they volunteer, and that passion leads them to share their project’s mission, key questions, and recent findings with others. Even participants who only dabble with a project can describe their experiences to friends and family. Read the rest of this entry »

Thankful for the Holidays and Citizen Science

By December 1st, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Comment

Last week was Thanksgiving, and all of us at SciStarter contributed to a list of which citizen science projects we are most thankful for. Although a number of projects came to mind, one stood out for me because it actually pulled me into the field of citizen science. This was ten years ago, and at that time, if someone had asked me what citizen science was, I would not have had an answer. So, what happened to bring about this shift in my career interests?

I was working at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University, conducting research on invasive species, or species not native to an area and that harm ecosystems, the economy, or human health. At the time, our lab was trying to predict the potential spread of these species under present and future environmental conditions.

Read the rest of this entry »

SciStarter’s Citizen Science Gift Guide

By November 28th, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Comment

Are you in the gift-giving mood? We have the best gift ideas for the citizen scientist in your life.


citscielninoSciStarter El Nino Kit: This all-in-one kit is everything you need to get started in NASA’s SMAP project with SciStarter. The kit can be a great gift for an outdoorsy family who is ready to get involved in science.

Buy: Purchase through the SciStarter Store

Borrow: Select kits are available to borrow at Arizona libraries. (Interested in starting your own lending library? Email us:




Imagine having an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, barometer, and thermometer in your pocket. That’s what you get with PocketLab! Start making and experimenting with this all-in-one kit.

Buy: Purchase through the SciStarter Store





AirCasting is an open-source, end-to-end solution for collecting, displaying, and sharing health and environmental data using your smartphone. The platform consists of wearable sensors that detect changes in your environment and physiology, including a palm-sized air quality monitor called the AirBeam, the AirCasting Android app, the AirCasting website, and optional wearable LED accessories.

Buy:Purchase through the SciStarter Store


Rain Gauge For CoCoRaHS


Give the gift that keeps on giving with a CoCoRaHS approved rain gauge. Help your friends and family track the precipitation in their neighborhood by kickstarting their CoCoRaHS experience.

Buy: Purchase through WeatherYourWay.




DIY Secchi DiskDIY Secchi Disk

We all love handmade gifts. Give your friends and family their very own way to measure phytoplankton with a Secchi Disk. Perfect for getting started with the Secchi Dip-in


Build: Make your own with ~$10 of materials.




A classic yet critical piece of equipment for any citizen scientist. Binoculars can be used to track birds for the Christmas Bird Count and the Great Backyard Bird Count in February.

Buy: Find binoculars at your local outdoors and recreation shops.



node_img_largeAirvisual Node

You breath in and out almost 25,000 times a day. It’s important to know what’s in that air. Track your air quality and contribute to global air quality maps with an AirVisual Node.

Buy: Purchase through AirVisual



trail-cameraTrail Camera

Get ready to observe and record what lives in your backyard with a trail camera. There are several projects looking for data and you can find them through eMammal. (Check with individual projects for the brand of trail camera required.)

Buy: Find a project and get your equipment.



magnifyingglassMagnifying Glass

Not sure what project is best for your budding citizen scientist? Give the gift of discovery with a backyard magnifying glass. Let your children explore and learn.

Buy: Look for magnifying glasses at your local toy, gift, and book stores.




CarenCooperBookCitizen Science: How Ordinary People Are Changing the Face of Discovery


By: Caren Cooper

Think you need a degree in science to contribute to important scientific discoveries? Think again. All around the world, in fields ranging from astronomy to zoology, millions of everyday people are choosing to participate in the scientific process. Working in cooperation with scientists in pursuit of information, innovation, and discovery, these volunteers are following protocols, collecting and reviewing data, and sharing their observations. They are our neighbors, our in-laws, and people in the office down the hall. Their story, along with the story of the social good that can result from citizen science, has largely been untold, until now.

Citizen scientists are challenging old notions about who can conduct research, where knowledge can be acquired, and even how solutions to some of our biggest societal problems might emerge. In telling their story, Cooper will inspire readers to rethink their own assumptions about the role that individuals can play in gaining scientific understanding and putting that understanding to use as stewards of our world. Citizen Science will be a rallying call-to-arms, and will also function as an authoritative resource for those inspired by the featured stories and message.

Buy: Available December 20th through Amazon pre-order or check your local bookstore

Borrow: Ask your local librarian.


rightfulplaceofscienceThe Rightful Place of Science: Citizen Science

By: Darlene Cavalier and Eric Kennedy

This volume in The Rightful Place of Science series explores citizen science, the movement to reshape the relationship between science and the public. By not only participating in scientific projects but actively helping to decide what research questions are asked and how that research is conducted, ordinary citizens are transforming how science benefits society.

Through vivid chapters that describe the history and theory of citizen science, detailed examples of brilliant citizen science projects, and a look at the movement’s future, The Rightful Place of Science: Citizen Science is the ideal guide for anyone interested in one of the most important trends in scientific practice.

Buy: Purchase online

Borrow: Ask your local librarian.



maryellenhannibalCitizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hopes in an Age of Extinction

By: Mary Ellen Hannibal

Here is a wide-ranging adventure in becoming a citizen scientist by an award-winning writer and environmental thought leader. As Mary Ellen Hannibal wades into tide pools, follows hawks, and scours mountains to collect data on threatened species, she discovers the power of a heroic cast of volunteers—and the makings of what may be our last, best hope in slowing an unprecedented mass extinction.

Digging deeply, Hannibal traces today’s tech-enabled citizen science movement to its roots: the centuries-long tradition of amateur observation by writers and naturalists. Prompted by her novelist father’s sudden death, she also examines her own past—and discovers a family legacy of looking closely at the world. With unbending zeal for protecting the planet, she then turns her gaze to the wealth of species left to fight for.

Combining original reporting, meticulous research, and memoir in impassioned prose, Citizen Scientist is a literary event, a blueprint for action, and the story of how one woman rescued herself from an odyssey of loss—with a new kind of science.

Buy: Check your local bookstore. Purchase online.

Borrow: Ask your local librarian.


tshirtSciStarter Tee-Shirt

Represent your love of citizen science at all times with the official SciStarter tee-shirt!

Buy: Purchase through the SciStarter Store






Note: Some links on the SciStarter store are affiliate links. 

Projects We Are Thankful For

By November 22nd, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Comment

unnamedAs Thanksgiving approaches, the SciStarter team would like to take this opportunity to thank you for advancing so many fields of research this year.
Below, the newsletter team shares projects we’re especially grateful for this year.
And from SciStarter’s developers:

Happy Thanksgiving!

The SciStarter Team

Read the rest of this entry »

Why it’s OK to fail: empowering students to discover

By November 17th, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Comment

By Lea Shell

Middle school students are presented with a bucket of what, at first glance, looks like dirt. They pull handfuls onto their lab bench and carefully begin to sift.

“I found a shark tooth!” one student exclaims,  prompting the other students to peer more intently at their own piles. Before long, they see that the 10-million-year-old sediment that they’re sifting through—rejected from a nearby phosphate mine in North Carolina—contains the fossil remains of sharks. Some students go through several handfuls before finding a tooth, some just “get lucky,” but they’re all reaching into the bucket to see what they can discover. Read the rest of this entry »