When disaster strikes, strike back with citizen science!

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | July 2, 2015 9:47 am
Photo: NOAA

Photo: NOAA

Natural disasters can be devastating and terrifying but in some cases, there are things we can do to take control.

Here are a selection of citizen science projects designed to inform rescue efforts and related research.

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Did you know ‘storm spotters’ in your community keep you safe during severe weather?

By Carolyn Graybeal | June 29, 2015 8:00 am
noaa skywarn

Weather radar showing a hurricane (Photo: NOAA)

Civic minded citizen scientists in your community help meteorologists and the National Weather Service stay abreast of inclement weather with on-the-ground data.

Earlier this week, the Midwest and Northeast were slammed with tornados and thunderstorms that grounded planes and held up trains. Thousands of people along the Northeast corridor lost power as a result.

During such hazardous weather, we rely on the knowledge, skill and expertise of meteorologists and designated emergency personnel to keep us safe and in the know. They in turn rely on data supplied by not just satellites and doppler radars but also – a network of citizen scientists.

But wait. With all our sophisticated technology, what could a few volunteers possibly contribute? Read More

Citizen Scientists Like You Could Change How We Handle Iraq’s Humanitarian Crisis

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | June 24, 2015 8:26 am
A refugee camp in the Kurdistan region of Iraq (Photo Credit: Flickr EU/ECHO/Caroline Gluck/CC BY-ND 2.0)

A refugee camp in the Kurdistan region of Iraq (Photo Credit: Flickr EU/ECHO/Caroline Gluck/CC BY-ND 2.0)

By analyzing images taken during times of humanitarian crises, citizen scientists can help refine a tool for data analysis improve relief efforts.

A guest post by Megan Passey and Jeremy Othenio. Edited by Arvind Suresh 

In August 2014, following the fall of Mosul in Iraq, the UN declared the situation a level 3 crisis, the most severe type of humanitarian emergency. Iraq was already home to an estimated 1 million internally displaced persons prior to the current crisis, as well as over 200,000 refugees from Syria.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Technology
MORE ABOUT: crisis, disaster

Celebrate the Summer Solstice with Citizen Science!

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | June 21, 2015 2:14 am
AlastairG / Creative Commons

AlastairG / Creative Commons

Our editors have selected some sizzling citizen science projects in celebration of Summer Solstice on June 21. Several are also appropriate for kids of all ages (keep those minds sharp over the summer break!).

And…our friends at Mental Floss featured “15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Summer Solstice,” including this fact:

“The Earth is at its furthest from the sun during the Summer Solstice.The warmth ofsummer comes exclusively from the tilt of the Earth’s axis, and not from how close it is to the sun at any given time.”

Check out the SciStarter blog for updates on your favorite projects and find new projects in our Project Finder!

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Science Behind the Camera: Snapping Pictures for Climate Research

By Guest | June 19, 2015 9:49 am
"Giant Manta AdF" by Arturo de Frias Marques - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

A giant manta filter feeding “Giant Manta AdF” by Arturo de Frias MarquesOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

by Nina Friedman

In 2015, mankind will take about one trillion photos. Up until 2010, 3.8 trillion photos had been taken. If taking photos solved climate change, 2015 would cause the earth’s climate to be cesspool-level stagnant.

As we know, taking photographs does not solve climate change — If only. Still, citizen science projects like RedMap use photography to collect data on our changing environment. RedMap asks its Australia-based volunteers to keep an eye out for nonnative marine species and to document their findings through photos. Read More

MORE ABOUT: climate change

Can You Name this Paw Print?

By Guest | June 16, 2015 8:00 am
Paw print (Credit: Andrew Mace/Flickr/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Paw print (Credit: Andrew Mace/Flickr)

A citizen science program documents the movement of six species in the mountain ranges and river valleys of northern New Mexico helping create wildlife corridors. For more wildlife related citizen science projects, visit SciStarter.

by Sharman Apt Russel

Wild animals glide so easily through the landscape, into bushes and leaves, up trees, around corners, even diving into the earth, so that you often wonder: was that a fox or a wish? Did I really just see a bobcat? Is that whoofing noise a black bear, startled now and galumphing down the hill?

That’s the great thing about tracks. They stay there. You can admire them for long minutes, imagining the animal who made them. There’s no mistaking, really, the roundness and size of this bobcat’s paw, the leading toe and absence of claw marks. Or this black bear. Like a barefoot human footprint, with five toes, except that the big one is on the outside. Or this raccoon. A track that resembles a human handprint but with pinpricks of claws in the dirt. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Living World
MORE ABOUT: wildlife

Dragonfly Watch – Find Those Fast and Furious Insects!

By Ian Vorster | June 11, 2015 11:07 pm
A tandem pair of Common Green Darners (Anax junius) laying eggs. © Dennis Paulson.

A tandem pair of Common Green Darners (Anax junius) laying eggs. © Dennis Paulson.

Find out more about Dragonfly Monitoring and other great citizen science projects on SciStarter!

“I’m an aquatic entomologist, and dragonflies and damselflies are the most colorful and noticeable insects in the habitats in which I work,” says Dr. Celeste A. Searles Mazzacano, a staff scientist and Aquatic Conservation Director at the Xerces Society. In her role as the project coordinator for the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership, she continues to add acclaim to these fast and furious little critters, “The nymphs are amazing predators with extremely cool adaptations for feeding—hinge-toothed lower lips that shoot out faster than the eye can see—and respiration rectal gills that double as a jet-propulsion chamber!”

The Migratory Dragonfly Partnership (MDP) is a collaborative partnership that was set up between experts, nongovernmental programs, academic institutions, and federal agencies from the United States, Mexico, and Canada, in which citizen scientists play an integral role. There are many questions currently surrounding dragonfly migration that MDP is trying to answer. For example, says Dr. Mazzacano, “What is the southern extent of migration, what is the relationship between resident and migratory members of the same species at the same site, and do all individuals that migrate south from a single place, go to the same destination in the south, or do individuals drop out and overwinter at different latitudes?” The primary goal of the project is to answer some of these questions and to provide information needed to create cross-border conservation programs to protect and sustain this amazing migratory phenomenon. Read More

MORE ABOUT: dragonfly

DIYBio and Open Science Changed My Life (And Could Change Yours)

By Guest | June 10, 2015 12:30 am
Sequencing DNA at Counter Culture Labs. Source: Counter Culture Labs

A DIYBio enthusiast working on sequencing DNA at Counter Culture Labs. Source: Counter Culture Labs

Milo Toor, a software engineer writes about his experience with DIYBio and Counter Culture Labs. You can find more information about Counter Culture Labs and search for other similar projects on the SciStarter citizen science project database. Counter Culture Labs is a 100% volunteer-run, membership funded organization, and is currently running a Kickstarter campaign, funds from which will be used to help support infrastructure and grow their collection of science toys. Help keep science accessible by donating!


I have two families. There’s the one with two parents and two sisters, with whom I share DNA and have Thanksgiving dinner. And then there’s the one with several dozen science fanatics, with whom I design DNA and craft vegan cheese to one day accompany that turkey. I would like to share my experience with the latter of these beloved families, Counter Culture Labs.

Located within Oakland’s Omni Commons, Counter Culture Labs (CCL) is both a physical space and a community. CCL is a self-supervised playground for science enthusiasts of all ages and abilities, a breeding ground for curiosity, and a proud part of the burgeoning global DIY Biology community. Read More


Celebrate World Oceans Day with Citizen Science

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | June 5, 2015 3:20 am

Photo; USFWS

On June 8th, people across the world will celebrate World Oceans Day, a day set aside to honor and protect our oceans.

To help you participate in World Oceans Day, we’ve put together a list of 7 ocean-based citizen science projects that need your help.

We are partnering with The TerraMar Project to share SciStarter’s “ocean and water” projects with their global community to transform the way we think about the ocean and the high seas.

Check out the SciStarter blog for updates on your favorite projects and find new projects in our Project Finder!


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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World
MORE ABOUT: newsletter

Citizen Science in Bloom!

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | June 3, 2015 12:25 am

Image: NPS

Roses are red.

Violets are blue.

Here are flower-themed citizen science projects,

Hand-picked for you!

Check out the SciStarter blog for updates on your favorite projects and find new projects in our Project Finder!



The SciStarter Team


P.S Want to receive curated projects like these right in your inbox? Sign up today at scistarter.com or email info@scistarter.com!

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Living World
MORE ABOUT: newsletter

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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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