Archive for the ‘PLOS’ Category

Bats, Bones, Zombees! Five macabre citizen science projects for Halloween.

By October 10th, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Comment 1

Drag your bones on over to our favorite, spooky research projects just in time for Halloween.

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Where is my Spider?

Share your photos of spiders. When we understand where spiders are living today, we will be better able to predict what may happen to spiders and agriculture in the future. Get started!


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Zombee Watch

Help researchers find out where honey bees are being parasitized by the Zombie Fly and how big a threat the fly is to honey bees. Get started!


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Dark Sky Meter

Combine your trick or treating with scientific data collection! The Dark Sky Meter (available for iPhones) allows citizen scientists to contribute to a global map of nighttime light pollution. Get started!


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Send Us Your Skeletons!

Are you a recreational fisher in Western Australia?Send your fish skeletons to the Department of Fisheries Western Australia. Learn why and get started here!


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Bat Detective

This online citizen science project from Zooniverse invites you to take part in wildlife conservation by listening to and identifying recordings of bat calls collected all over the world. Get started!



SciStarter is partnering up with WHYY, a National Public Radio station, to help share stories about citizen science projects and people in PA, NJ and DE. If you have a story to share, contact

If you’d like your citizen science project featured on SciStarter, email

Fun and Games Until Someone Maps an Eye (Neuron): Citizen Science Games

By September 27th, 2013 at 10:34 am | Comment 1

Tired of watching the kids race home from school just to play video games for hours? One-up them and make a significant contribution to science while YOU play games. (Warning: The kids might like these, too!)

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EyeWire is a citizen science project aimed at mapping the neural connections of the retina. All you have to do is play a relaxing and absorbing game of coloring online brain images! Get started!



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Play this online game to explore how nanovehicles can cooperate with each other and their environment to kill tumors. Best strategies will be considered for validation in vitro or in robotico! Get started!


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Players are challenged to compare chunks of genetic code from the common ash tree, Fraxinus excelsior, to search for genes that could encode resistance to the Chalara fungus. Players will also match genetic patterns from the Chalara fungus to learn more about how it spreads.
Get started!


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Citizen Sort

Classify photos of plant and insect species that scientists took live in the field by playing Happy Match or the adventure game Forgotten Island. Players will solve puzzles and explore diverse locations from icy peaks to fiery volcanoes. Get started!


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AgeGuess investigates the differences between perceived age (how old you look to other people) and chronological age (how old you actually are) and their potential power as an aging biomarker.
Get started!



Want to help send microbes to the International Space Station? Get involved in our research project, Project MERCCURI!

If you’d like your citizen science project featured on SciStarter, email Want even more? Subscribe to SciStarter’s newsletter! See all archived newsletters.

Citizen Science Does Grow on Trees!

By September 12th, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Comment

Trees provide us with oxygen, shade, and that calming rustle on an evening hike. Now, they’re also providing the opportunity to do some citizen science! Here is our round-up of tree-related citizen science projects that you can go out on a limb to participate in!

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Treezilla is a mapping project based in Great Britain that challenges citizen scientists to map every tree in Britain. Get started!




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OPAL Air Survey
Help scientists learn more about air quality throughout England by recording lichens on trees and looking for tar spot fungus on sycamore leaves. Get started!



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This free mobile app uses visual recognition software to help you identify tree species from photographs of their leaves. Get started!



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Redwood Watch
Take photographs of redwood trees and submit them to researchers. Your data will help researchers understand where redwoods survive and help track redwood forest migration over time. Get started!



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PhillyTreeMap uses the iTree software from the USDA Forest Service to calculate the environmental impact of the region’s urban forest. Get started!



Join the SciStarter team and scientists who are also Washington Redskins Cheerleaders at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on Saturday 9/14 and get involved in our research project, Project MERCCURI!

If you’d like your citizen science project featured on SciStarter, email Want even more? Subscribe to SciStarter’s newsletter! See all archived newsletters.

We’re Taking Citizen Science Back to School!

By August 20th, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Comments (4)

SciStarter goes back to school! Our Project Finder is full of citizen science projects perfect for the classroom. Many include additional teaching materials. 

We highlight 10 here that can be used in the classroom, as homework assignments, or as after school family activities across a variety of subjects and age groups.


Screen shot 2013-08-26 at 11.28.40 AMProject Budburst

Participating in Project BudBurst, a NEON citizen science program, is easy. Everything needed to participate is on the web site. Choose a plant to monitor and share your observations with others online. Not sure where to start? Take a look at the Ten Most Wanted species. Get started!



World Water Monitoring Day

On September 18, join other classrooms sampling local water bodies to measure temperature, acidity (pH), clarity (turbidity), and dissolved oxygen. You’ll need to purchase an easy-to-use test kit. Get started!

The Sun Lab

Help Nova Lab explore what makes the Sun so volatile and get access to the same data and tools scientists use to predict solar storms-so that you can predict them for yourself. Get started! 

Testing the Fairness of State Quarters

With so many different state designs, it’s not clear that all U.S. quarters are fair. Help us check by taking a few moments to flip some quarters and report the results. Get started!

Cell Slider

Help cancer researchers identify cancerous cells by looking at online slides from drug trial data and identifying colored sections using prompts. The results will help researchers better understand drug trial data. Get started!

NASA JPL’s Infographics

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) invites you to turn scientific data and images into informative graphics to convey a simple and easy to understand message. Get started!

Encyclopedia of Life

Contribute information and images of what you see in nature as you learn about any known species on Earth This global initiative seeks to create an “infinitely expandable” database for all of our planet’s 1.9 million known species. Get started! 


Map habitat in backyards, parks, and schools. Draw your landscapes with a beautiful online mapping tool and learn  how to use your outdoor spaces (big or small) to aid birds and other wildlife. Share your maps with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Get started!

School Of Ants

Help map ant diversity and species ranges across North America by collecting ants from your schoolyard or backyard. Researchers will ID the ants and add the species list to the big School of Ants map. Get started! 


Measure rain, hail and snow falling near your home or school and share the data with meteorologists. Your reports are immediately available for viewing so you can also compare your school to other schools’ precipitations! Get started!

*Our former featured project Explore the Sea Floor has expired, so we replaced it with another one of our favorites!

Want even more? Subscribe to SciStarter’s newsletter! 

This digest of SciStarter Weekly Featured Projects was curated by Jenna Lang. If you’d like to see your project featured in our digest, e-mail

Categories: Citizen Science,PLOS

Tags: , ,

Proceed to the Perseids with NASA’s Meteor Counter

By August 10th, 2013 at 9:31 am | Comment


The first time I ever saw the Perseids, I was 15 years old.

I snuck out of the house in the middle of the night (without telling my parents, of course) and found the darkest spot at the park nearby. What followed was one of the most awesome sights I had witnessed up until then: hundreds of staggered streaks of light, tearing through an ink-black sky. Part of me knew it was strict science. Another part of me was convinced it was magic. Who knew that a phenomenon that happens every day could resonate so profoundly?

Every day, on average, more than 40 tons of meteoroids strike our planet.  Most are tiny specks of dust that disintegrate harmlessly high up in Earth’s atmosphere, producing a slow drizzle of “shooting stars” in the night sky. Meteors (what they’re called before they enter our atmosphere) are made of cosmic material–silicate rock, iron, and metals–left over from the early formation of our solar system.

Where do the Perseids come from?

As the Earth rotates around the sun this weekend, it will pass through the debris field of the comet Swift-Tuttle, a dirty snowball of remnants that never became planets nor stars. The comet takes about 133.2 years to orbit the sun. As it moves, a tail of gas, ice and dust is left behind it.

Each year, from mid-July to early August, the cosmic debris in this comet’s tail culminate in an evening spectacular called the Perseids.

When and How to View

This year, the meteor shower peaks late Sunday (8/11)  into early Monday (8/12) just before dawn.

Find a dark field away from any light pollution. Look for the constellation Perseus, where the Perseids derive their name. It should be observable in the northeastern sky. During a Perseid meteor shower, you can expect to observe up to 100 meteoroids in an hour.


What to Bring

What’s nice about the Perseids is you don’t need any special viewing equipment. The naked eye is adequate. Grab a blanket and/or lawn chair, a cup of warm liquid, some snacks, and sit back to wait for the forthcoming light show.

NASA has a Meteor Counter app that iPhone users can download. Viewers of the Perseids can help report how many they see within a particular time frame. The app’s “piano key” interface allows you to tap keys as you view meteoroids. It records critical data for each meteor: time, magnitude, latitude, and longitude, along with optional verbal annotations. Afterward, these data are automatically uploaded to NASA researchers for analysis.

While you’re out there, you might as well turn an otherwise passive (albeit amazing) viewing experience into a participatory one in the name of citizen science.

SciStarter wishes you a happy viewing for this year’s Perseids. If it doesn’t make you feel too cheesy, make a wish when you see your first meteoroid. I know the fifteen year old in me won’t forget to.

If you live in Alabama, you can participate in the Alabama Meteor Tracking Project.



Lily Bui holds dual (non-science) bachelors’ degrees in International Studies and Spanish from the University of California Irvine. She has worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; served in AmeriCorps in Montgomery County, Maryland; worked for a New York Times bestselling ghostwriter; and performed across the U.S. as a touring musician. She currently works in public media at WGBH-TV and the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) in Boston, MA. In her spare time, she thinks of cheesy science puns. Follow @dangerbui.