Back To School With Citizen Science: A Conversation with Ben Graves

By Carolyn Graybeal September 14th, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Comment

In the next two posts, as part of our SciStarter in the Classroom collection, guest contributor Ben Graves will share his personal experiences and advice for using citizen science in the classroom. Graves is a fellow with the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, which supports a small cohort of early-career teachers across the United States with intensive professional development. He teaches AP Environmental Science and freshman environmental science at Delta High School, a rural school in western Colorado. Before moving to Colorado, Ben was deeply involved in environmental education and citizen science initiatives with youth in the national parks, including leading volunteer trail crews across Alaska and teaching inquiry-based science workshops for students and teachers at NatureBridge, an organization that provides environmental science programming in the national parks.

I spend lot of my summer outdoors—in my garden, running and biking in the mountains, learning new approaches to teaching outdoor and experiential science. As the end of the summer nears, I think about how to get my science students outside. Science doesn’t need to be contained inside a classroom, and I have found that citizen science projects are a great way to get students outdoors and keep them engaged throughout the school year.
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Back to School with Citizen Science!

By Eva Lewandowski September 8th, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Comment

As students head back to school, more and more teachers are using citizen science in their classrooms to give students authentic science experiences.
Below, our editors highlight some of the many excellent citizen science projects that work well in classrooms. You can find even more with the SciStarter Global Project Finder.
The SciStarter Team

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Conversations in Citizen Science: Alberta Chu of FaceTopo, a project to crowdsource face data!

By Alycia Crall September 7th, 2016 at 10:19 am | Comment

The beauty of citizen science is that it gives non-professional researchers the chance to get up close and personal with science. But when SciStarter interviewed citizen scientists this summer, they learned that the number one reason volunteers quit a project was because the scientists never replied to them. Think about all of your experiences collecting data from your backyard, analyzing images of spring online, and learning about new topics in science: have you heard from the scientists you’re helping? Would you like to?

FaceTopoIn our new series, “Conversations in CitSci,” we speak with the people behind the projects. Last time, we connected with Kay Havens of Project BudBurst about using citizen science to track plant data. Today we’re chatting with Alberta Chu, filmmaker and director of a brand-new citizen science project called FaceTopo. Read the rest of this entry »

SciStarter at Science Centers, Museums, Zoos, and Aquariums.

By Catherine Hoffman September 6th, 2016 at 11:50 am | Comment


The Association of Zoos and Aquariums annual meeting starts this week. We wanted to share this quick information sheet about how SciStarter can be used with your museum, zoo, aquarium, or science center. Please feel free to share or distribute at the meeting.

What is SciStarter?

SciStarter is a popular online citizen science “hotspot” featuring more than 1500 searchable citizen science projects and events, added by researchers and project owners, and serving over 35,000 citizen scientists. We aim to be a one-stop shop to recruit, train, equip and support participants in a broad spectrum of formal and informal research projects. Projects from our database are regularly featured  on Scistarter,, the National Science Teachers Association’s websites, on PBS Kids, on the radio via NPR’s WHYY and more.

SciStarter is also building a corresponding database of the tools available for citizen science projects. This database will build upon the SciStarter project database to match people to projects based the tools they need or already have. We are building a network of lending libraries through museums, libraries, and other public learning spaces to increase access to project training and access to these tools.

What resources and services does SciStarter provide?

If your museum, zoo, or aquarium hosts a citizen science project, you can add it to the SciStarter searchable database. It will then be available for promotion with our editorial partners and in bi-monthly campaigns.

SciStarter also creates and develops local and global programs. For example, we are currently working with the GLOBE program to recruit, train, and equip participants for the Soil Moisture Active-Passive Project (SMAP). Learn more about the partnership here.

What connections to Museums, Zoos, and Aquariums does SciStarter already have?

We currently host a SciStarter kiosk at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences where guests can find and join both local and global citizen science projects. We can offer this same kiosk technology to other museums, science centers, or public spaces.

SciStarter’s free APIs enable museums, zoos and aquariums to create their own, online, customized Project Finder, adding dynamic and up-to-date content in minutes. We are piloting curated citizen science programming and related lending libraries of citizen science instruments.

How can I get connected?

To learn more about partnering with SciStarter for citizen science in your science center, museum, zoo, or aquarium, email Darlene Cavalier at

Categories: Citizen Science

Enlisting youth citizen scientists to combat Zika

By Carolyn Graybeal September 1st, 2016 at 10:49 am | Comment

Going out of your way to attract mosquitoes seems like the last thing anyone would want to do, but that is exactly what the national Invasive Mosquito Project is hoping volunteers will do in the name of public health.

Managed through the United States Department of Agriculture, the Invasive Mosquito Project aims to track the spread of invasive container-breeding mosquitoes – those whose females lay eggs in the standing water that collects in containers such as vases, rain barrels, and even pool or boat covers. The introduction of many non-native species often coincides with the introduction of new pathogens, and mosquitoes are notorious for playing host to a number of these, including the viruses responsible for West Nile, dengue and most recently in the news, Zika.

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