Introducing SciStarter 2.0; built with you in mind.

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | September 19, 2017 9:10 pm

You spoke, SciStarter listened. Check out the new SciStarter, your source for real science you can do, featuring more than 1600 current opportunities for you (yup, you!) to advance scientific research, locally or globally. Most of the awesome citizen science projects you learn about here (on this Citizen Science Salon blog and throughout the awesome website), are sourced from SciStarter, through a long-standing partnership and commitment to bring you opportunities to take action on topics you care about.

Help scientists and community leaders monitor the quality of water, air and soil near you. Learn how to report levels of light pollution, a serious issue affecting sleeping and nesting habits of wildlife (not to mention it’s the reason you probably can’t see the Milky Way!). Or help Alzheimer’s researchers analyze real brain blood flow movies and simply click an image to record when blood vessels are stalled.

With support from the National Science Foundation and others, and your feedback, SciStarter created new features for participants, projects owners, and researchers.  Your dashboard, for example, is where you can bookmark, join, or track your contributions to projects and events of interest to you, connect with scientists, find other participants, and so much more.

Fill out your profile then complete this survey to let SciStarter know what you think about the new features.

Your feedback will help them understand where to put efforts next in order to support your interests and needs in citizen science.


Want more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder!


Sweet Citizen Science for National Honey Month

By acrall | September 18, 2017 1:35 pm
Johanna James-Heinz

“For bees the flower is the fountain of life. For flowers, the bee is the messenger of love.”

-Kahlil Gibran
In honor of National Honey Month we’ve highlighted a few citizen science projects you can do to help us better understand our buzzing friends the bees. From honey bees to bumble bees, there’s something for everyone.
The SciStarter Team
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Digital Disaster Relief: Crowdsourced Responses to Hurricanes, Earthquakes, and Floods Around the World

By Guest | September 13, 2017 3:04 pm

By: Lily Bui

In the brief span of two months, a series of disasters have swept across the globe. Hurricanes in the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean left homes, businesses, and streets flooded, disarmed power grids and basic services, and devastated the communities that rely on them. An earthquake in Mexico spurred mass evacuations and toppled buildings. Floods in South Asia killed thousands and shut millions of children out of school.

Critical to disaster response efforts after an incident is the gathering and sense-making of information. Crowdsourced mapping, data curation and analysis, social media monitoring, API development, and so on, provide an opportunity to people not living in these disaster areas another means of contributing to aid efforts. Read More


Help Cornell Researchers Find the Lost Ladybugs

By Guest | September 7, 2017 1:54 pm

By: Megan Ray Nichols

It’s always fun to have a ladybug land on your arm while outside — but these days, it’s more and more likely that any ladybugs landing on you or the plants in your garden are not native to North America. Over the past three decades, several ladybug species native to North America have all but disappeared from the landscape. At the same time, other species, introduced from Europe and Asia, have proliferated.  What’s happening to our native ladybugs, and where can they still be found? Researchers at Cornell University created The Lost Ladybug Project to find this out.

What is the Lost Ladybug Project?

Nine-spotted Ladybug Beetle. Credit: Rob Haley (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Lost Ladybug Project is a citizen science endeavor that originated at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, that seeks to find out more about native species, such as the rare nine-spotted ladybug, as well as the non-natives that seem to be taking their place. Volunteers across the country look for ladybugs in their yards, gardens, or other locations. When volunteers spot ladybugs, they share a photograph and the location where the photo was taken with the Cornell researchers. They use this information to learn more about where our native ladybugs are found, how many there might be, and what effect the changing distribution of ladybugs may have on local ecosystems.

Ladybugs eat plant-eating bugs like aphids, which can damage roses and many other garden plants, but their overall impact on the ecosystem remains largely unknown.  The populations change quickly, making scientists worry about what impact these changes might have on the local ecosystems.

Perfect for Students or Science Clubs

For students, there’s nothing better than a lesson spent outside. Getting your students involved in the Lost Ladybug Project is a great way to help the Cornell researchers while immersing students in hands-on field work. The project also could be a great fit for science clubs or for organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts; both organizations have nature- and outdoor-themed badges  and participating in this project could help scouts attain them.

The project also spans multiple academic subjects, offering a deeper learning experience..For example:

  • Science — Just spotting the ladybugs and learning to identify the different subspecies is a science lesson in itself; as is learning about the insect’s lifecycle.
  • Math — For young students, start by counting the spots and adding them up. Older students could use basic statistics to estimate the current ladybug population based on available information.
  • Art — Who doesn’t love drawing ladybugs?
  • Reading — There are dozens of titles, for all age groups, that revolve around, or at least mention, ladybugs.
  • History — Ladybugs aren’t just pest-eaters. In many cultures, they’re considered good luck.  Spend some time researching the history of ladybug superstitions.

Lost Ladybug Project field guide. Credit: The Lost Ladybug Project

What Do You Need to Get Started?

All you need to get started with the Lost Ladybug Project is a few willing minds and a few pairs of sharp eyes, but many tools exist to help you along the way.

  1. Lesson plans and other printables: The project itself has created a number of lesson plans, lists and printables to use in conjunction with your lessons.
  2. Insect catching equipment: You don’t want to harm the ladybugs as you capture them. Invest in some nets or other capture equipment as well as some proper containers for holding the ladybugs while you observe and photograph them.
  3. A digital camera or camera phone: If you want to participate in the Lost Ladybug Project, you need to photograph your captured ladybugs. Once photographed, you can upload them to the project’s site, along with information such as discovery location and habitat.

That’s it — you don’t need much more than a bug net and a camera to get involved with the Lost Ladybug Project, and they can use all the help they can get. Once you’ve found your first few ladybugs and uploaded your findings, your students won’t want to stop hunting for them. And remember — even if you don’t find any ladybugs on one of your searches, zeroes are useful data too.

Megan Ray Nichols is a freelance science writer and the editor of Schooled By Science. She regularly writes for The Naked Scientists, Astronomy Magazine, and IoT Evolution. When she isn’t writing, Megan enjoys exploring new hiking trails, finding a new book to read or catching up on episodes of Dr. Who. Keep in touch with Megan by following her on Twitter and subscribing to her blog.

Want more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With 1100+ citizen science projects spanning every field of research, task and age group, there’s something for everyone!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Education

The Sky is Falling! Or is It?

By Guest | August 29, 2017 6:04 pm

By Dolores Hill and Carl Hergenrother, Target Asteroids! Co-Leads Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission

Today’s amateur astronomers carry on long held traditions in citizen science by making valuable contributions in data collection and monitoring celestial objects of all kinds. They supplement work done by professional astronomers and fill gaps in our knowledge. Imagine being a modern-day Tycho Brahe who, in the late-1500s, measured positions of stars that were so accurate and reliable that Johannes Kepler used them to determine that the planets revolve around the sun in elliptical orbits! Imagine contributing to an asteroid data repository and assisting future space travelers; both robotic and human. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Space & Physics

Sit, Shake, Citizen Science!

By Guest | August 24, 2017 4:53 pm
U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Christopher Griffin

If you have a cat or dog at home, chances are they love spending time with you. Now you have one more way to show them your love – with citizen science, just in time for National Dog Day on August 26! Below, we highlight projects you can do at home with your four-legged friends. Try them out and let us know what you think! Find more projects and events on SciStarter, to do now or bookmark for later.

The SciStarter Team
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MORE ABOUT: cats, citizen science, dogs, pets

Science Experiments for the Public during the Solar Eclipse

By Guest | August 16, 2017 12:15 pm

The two towers of the Schaeberle Camera and the rock wall at Jeur (India), with overlall height lowered by use of a pit for the plate-holder. Credit: Mary Lea Shane Archives

By Dr. Liz MacDonald, founder of Aurorasaurus and scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. This blog reposted from

Over a century ago, American astronomer W.W. Campbell set up a 40 foot ‘Schaeberle camera’ in Jeur, India to take pictures and study various properties of the sun’s outermost layer called the corona during the 1898 total solar eclipse. To make sure no people or animals would tamper with the camera before the eclipse occurred, he found volunteers to guard the delicate equipment the evening before the experiment. Today, in 2017, volunteers called citizen scientists are again helping scientists make observations and learn more about the sun and Earth interaction. This time though, citizen scientists across the United States will have more direct involvement, actually collecting data by making their own observations and operating instruments. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Space & Physics

Weeding: It’s Not Just for Gardeners

By Guest | August 10, 2017 3:00 pm

By Kayla Keyes, Mote Marine Laboratory

Recent news about Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has been grim: the most recent aerial survey of the reef identified a stretch of bleached coral over 900 miles (1500 km) long, and scientists have declared the reef to be in a terminal stage. Studies have shown that losing the Great Barrier Reef would result in a globally destructive economic and environmental chain reaction, but despite all of the pressures threatening the future of our reefs a positive light shines brightly from Magnetic Island in Queensland, Australia. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Living World

Look down, look all around during the total solar eclipse

By Carolyn Graybeal | August 7, 2017 4:25 pm

Solar eclipse. Credit: Luc Viatour (CC-BY-SA)

On August 21st, millions of people across the U.S. will have the opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse. But we won’t be the only ones taking notice—there is a good chance animals, and even some plants, will be affected by the event, too.

It is not as farfetched as you might think. Many animals and plants respond to daily changes in light and temperature. Birds sing at dawn while fireflies come out at twilight.  Flowers like morning glories and poppies open in the morning and close at night; others, like the bat-pollinated night-blooming cereus, open their flowers and release their fragrance well after the sun has gone down. When sunlight dims and temperatures cool during this month’s eclipse, the change might be significant enough to affect these and other organisms. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Space & Physics

Help scientists discover what else happens during a solar eclipse!

By Carolyn Graybeal | August 4, 2017 5:09 pm
It’s a Solar Eclipse!

I, Luc Viatour

When the moon completely covers the sun on August 21, will animals behave differently? Will air and surface temperatures fluctuate? Help scientists answer these and other research questions!

Below, we highlight projects you can do in the path of the eclipse, in your own backyard, and a couple for after the eclipse. Find more projects and events on SciStarter, to do now or bookmark for later.

The SciStarter Team

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Space & Physics

Citizen Science Salon

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Citizen Science Salon, brought to you by SciStarter, is where science enthusiasts can join forces with top researchers. We'll feature weekly collaborative, crowdsourced, and DIY research projects that relate to what you're reading about in Discover, so you can take science into your own hands. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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