Five Halloween Treats for Citizen Scientists

By Arvind Suresh | October 20, 2014 7:42 am

 Zombees and spiders and bats,
Oh MY!
Drag your bones over,

give these projects a TRY!

Happy Halloween!

From the SciStarter team.

Here are  five projects to put a smile on your skull. 




Loss of the Night
Bring Citizen Science with you to Trick or Treat this year! This App helps you learn constellations as you  contribute to a global real-time map of light pollution. Get started!

zombee watch scistarter

There’s a Zombie Fly threatening our honeybees! Learn how to set a trap, catch a bee, and see if it’s been infected by the Zombie Fly.  Get started!


Bat Detective
By sorting the sounds in recordings into insect and bat calls, you will help biologists learn how to reliably distinguish bat ‘tweets’ to develop new automatic identification tools.  Get started!

istock spider

Colorado Spider Survey
Little is known about the biodiversity of spiders in Colorado and the impact urbanization is having on species distribution. Learn how to collect and identify spiders, which will be sent to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Get started! BONUS! The L.A. Spider Survey needs your help investigating these issues in the L.A. area!

istock earthworm

Great Lakes Worm Watch
Not fazed by creepy crawlies? Then this wormy project is for you! Help monitor earthworm distribution and habitat from ANYWHERE! Collect earthworms and habitat data, and learn how to do soil surveys. Get started!


Image Credits

Loss of the Night – NASA

ZomBeeWatch – US Geological Survey

Bat Detective – National Park Service

MORE ABOUT: citizen science

Citizen Scientists, Help SciStarter Empower You!

By Arvind Suresh | October 19, 2014 12:59 pm
Help us empower you, citizen scientist! (Image Credit: Sutterstock /

Help us empower you, citizen scientist! (Image Credit: Sutterstock / kraphix)


SciStarter wants to make it easier for you to learn about and get involved in way more opportunities to make the world a better place. We have some big ideas, (and we know you have the potential to do BIG things!) but we want to hear from you first.

And keeping true to our citizen science roots, we’re seeking your thoughts to help us empower you! Consider completing this brief survey by Wednesday 10/22.


MORE ABOUT: citizen science

SciStarter among 18 winners of Knight Prototype Fund!

By Arvind Suresh | October 16, 2014 7:48 am


The Knight Foundation today announced the latest winners of its Knight Prototype Fund. Eighteen projects will receive $35,000 to help them bring their concepts closer to fruition and one of the 18 projects is ours:

SciStarter ‘s project will connect data journalists and researchers with citizen scientists who are interested in helping them collect data about specific issues (i.e. water quality in a particular neighborhood).

The fund, launched in 2012, also gives winners a support network and the opportunity to receive human-centered design training in an effort bring early stage media ideas to a formal launch.

We are very honored to be in such great company and will post developments here.

Learn more about the other winners and the Knight Prototype Fund .



Citizen Science on the Radio

By Lily Bui | October 9, 2014 12:40 pm
Listen to the sound of citizen science!

Listen to the sound of citizen science!

Editor’s Note: This guest post by former SciStarter editor Lily Bui originally appeared on the SciStarter blog

Listen. Let’s get one thing straight: I am an unabashed public radio nerd.

So, when citizen science and public radio come together, I am nothing short of ecstatic. But it’s not just my public radio nerdiness for its own sake. Rather, this convergence speaks to a larger narrative (for me, at least) — that of citizen science being a form of public participation in science and public radio playing the role of representing public discourse.

Read More

MORE ABOUT: citizen science

The Sound of Science! 5 Citizen Science Projects That Need Your Ears

By Arvind Suresh | October 7, 2014 3:31 pm

In our latest newsletter we’ve picked citizen science projects where you can collaborate with scientists and use sounds and radio waves to track environmental health, understand our solar system, and even search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

And don’t forget to tune into NPR/WHYY’s Citizen Science radio series, produced in partnership with SciStarter.

And without further ado, here’s science you can do!



Image Credit: SETI@Home

SETI, or the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is a scientific effort seeking to determine if there is intelligent life outside Earth. Radio SETI listens for artificial radio signals coming from other stars. SETI@home is a radio SETI project that lets anyone with a computer and an Internet connection participate. Get started!

Radio JOVE

radio jove

Image Credit: NASA

NASA’s Radio JOVE project enables students and amateur scientists to observe natural radio emissions from Jupiter, the Sun, and our galaxy. Learn about radio astronomy first-hand by building your own radio telescope from an inexpensive kit and/or using remote radio telescopes through the Internet.  Get started!

Frog Listening Network

Image Credit: Josch13 / Pixabay CC0

Image Credit: Josch13 / Pixabay CC0

Amphibians are considered “sentinels” of environmental health. By knowing where in our environment frogs are flourishing and where they may be vanishing, researchers can direct their efforts to protect key habitats. Learn how to identify amphibians in Florida, by their sounds!  Get started!

Citizen Weather Observer Program


Image Credit: CWOP

Join thousands of ham radio operators and other people with personal weather stations around the country volunteering their weather data for education and research.   Get started!


Interactive NASA Space Physics Ionosphere Radio Experiments (INSPIRE)


Image Credit: INSPIRE

Use build-it-yourself kits to measure and record very low frequency radio emissions. Help advance our understanding of how they interact with the Earth’s ionosphere and magnetic fields. You’ll work with NASA space scientists on real scientific problems! Get started!

MORE ABOUT: citizen science, NASA

What Would You Look at If You Could Control a Really Powerful Telescope?

By Arvind Suresh | October 3, 2014 9:12 am
Meteor Showers Anyone? (Image Credit: Slooh)

Watching Meteor Showers Anyone? (Image Credit: Slooh)

Editor’s Note: In the November issue of Discover Magazine the article Killer Telescopes describes the coming wave of gigantic telescopes. This article talks about Slooh, a community observatory that allows citizens to access high powered telescopes and also broadcasts major celstial events live. Slooh is one of the projects on SciStarter’s database of more than 800 citizen science projects. Want more space age citizen science? We’ve got you covered!

Most of us can remember staring into a clear night sky as kids, being captivated by what’s out there. Starts, planets, comets, asteroids and other celestial beings have always exuded a sense of mystery and inspired many an astronomer. As a student in middle school, I vividly remember a trip that I took along with my family to the Vainu Bappu Observatory close to my hometown which houses the largest telescope in Asia. I was awestruck at how humankind, so infinitesimally small in the larger context of the universe, had managed to conceive and build this amazing instrument that allowed us to learn about what we are a part of. And when the recent Perseid meteor shower occurred, I wished that I was there once again, to get an up close and personal view. Read More

MORE ABOUT: citizen science, NASA

When Dog Vomit Smells Delightful

By Ian Vorster | October 1, 2014 9:02 am
What can a change in our capacity to smell can tell us about our health? (Image credit:

What can a change in our capacity to smell can tell us about our health? (Image credit: Igor Zakowski / shutterstock)

I hate the smell of a mall. Everything reeks of that seemingly incurable lust for stuff—‘buy me, buy me’ is the cry. It’s as if the building is overdosing on the smell of money, and perspires that sickly-sweet perfume. You can lick it off the air. But that’s just me—my daughter loves it.

It’s not accidental. There are firms who research and provide signature scents for companies like Tommy Hilfiger. recently reported on this. And if you didn’t know that, consider this: scientific papers have been published that actually test the impact of ambient odors on mall shopper’s emotions, cognition and, wait for it… spending!1  The authors concluded that the cognitive theory of emotions explains the influence of ambient scent best, and they went on to discuss managerial implications. I guess if LL Bean could manage that I would become more entranced with the idea.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
MORE ABOUT: citizen science

Eyes on the Rise: Sea Level Rise Rally

By Arvind Suresh | September 28, 2014 8:54 am


Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Dr. Robert Gutsche, Jr., Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Florida International University and a part of the team at Eyes on the Rise, a crowd-hydrology citizen science project.

University and high school students at Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay Campus are launching an effort to measure possible flooding on King Tide Day (Oct. 9) on Miami Beach, beginning with a sea level rise rally at 9 a.m. on Sept. 29, 2014. The event will be hosted by, a collaboration of four journalism professors at FIU, hundreds of college and high school students, and a dozen Miami area scientists, media and technology professionals.

Read More


Can Citizen Science Help Save the European Ash Tree?

By Sheetal R. Modi | September 25, 2014 1:06 pm
Fraxinus, the biologically, scientifically, and ecologically relevant version of Candy Crush Saga (Image Credit: Fraxinus)

Fraxinus, the biologically, scientifically, and ecologically relevant version of Candy Crush Saga (Image Credit: Fraxinus)

In the November print issue of Discover Magazine, the article “Cooking trees to save citrus” discusses the pathogenic attack of citrus trees by a bacterium spread by Asian psyllids and how heat generation can sterilize trees from these infectious agents. Unfortunately, the ash tree, which is also under attack by a microbial pathogen, doesn’t have the same line of defense. In a race against the spread of the disease across Europe, scientists are trying to uncover the genetic mechanism for fungal resistance by recruiting the help of citizen scientists.

With autumn comes a multitude of colors—but the ash tree, faithful to its name, stays a non-conflagrant color while waiting for winter to take its leaves. Or while waiting for its microscopic predator, the Chalara fungus. Chalara causes ash dieback, a disease that has wiped out over 60% of the ash trees in Denmark, and is now sweeping across Europe, with highest incidences in Sweden and the UK. Yet some trees exhibit resilience to infection by Chalara, and it’s this curious display of biological fitness that has incited the interest of geneticists. The Sainsbury Lab (TSL), in collaboration with the John Innes Centre set about exploring this scientific problem by collecting samples from the Chalara fungus and ash trees from all over the UK, infected and resistant alike. But when confronted with the massive amount of genetic information beholden by these samples, they opted to recruit the help of citizen scientists.
Read More

MORE ABOUT: citizen science

Wisconsin’s Water Action Volunteers – Making Waves for Action

By Arvind Suresh | September 23, 2014 9:27 pm

Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by Kris Stepenuck, Program Director of Wisconsin’s Water Action Volunteers Stream Monitoring. Interested in water monitoring projects? We’ve got you covered!

Monitor the quality and quantity of Wisconsin’s streams with Water Action Volunteers.

wisconsin water action

A Water Action Volunteer checking a local stream

Human uses of the land impact the quality and quantity of waters in local streams, which in turn, can affect our recreational activities such as fishing, boating and swimming, and our drinking water quality. If we understand where, how and to what extent our streams are impacted, we can take steps to protect and improve them.

Citizen scientists in Wisconsin’s Water Action Volunteers (WAV) program assess the quality and quantity of water in their local streams. Their monitoring helps natural resource professionals understand the extent of non-point pollution in the state. Non-point pollution comes from sources across the landscape and is the primary source of pollution in Wisconsin’s (and our nation’s) waters. It includes sediment and nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, which enter streams from agricultural and urban lands. Volunteer monitors also help track streamflow over time, since urban and agricultural land uses can significantly increase or decrease flows. For example, in urban areas, increased impervious surfaces result in less infiltration of rainwater into the ground and change baseflows and stormwater runoff. Also, where there is groundwater pumping, streamflow can be drastically reduced, which can endanger fish and other aquatic life. Read More

MORE ABOUT: citizen science

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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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