NASA’s Pilot Joe Kittinger once said, “You can’t get any real fun things unless you volunteer.” At the time, he was referring to things like voluntarily jumping out of planes at extremely high altitudes to help NASA conduct research on zero-gravity environments during its pre-Apollo days. Whether or not Kittinger knew it, he was a citizen scientist.
A citizen scientist is an individual who contributes time and talents to formal or informal scientific research.
The citizen science movement is sweeping the globe, with thousands of projects enlisting help from millions of volunteers. These citizen scientists are advancing diverse fields including ecology, astronomy, medicine, psychology, linguistics, genetics, engineering, medicine, and more.
Researchers and project organizers are also tapping the enthusiasm and creativity of Makers, DIYers and others who are building low-cost instruments, apps, APIs and more to help accelerate research and empower citizens.
Starting this month, we welcome you to the Citizen Science Salon—a new print, online and social media initiative brought to you by Discover Magazine and SciStarter, a one-stop shop to find and get involved in projects, and to track and share contributions to science.
Each issue of Discover Magazine will feature citizen science reference boxes at the end of select articles. These citizen science alerts will feature projects directly related to the article. The projects will be selected by SciStarter’s editors. Readers will be directed to the new Citizen Science Salon blog, where they can learn more about the project and get involved. The blog will also feature selections from SciStarter’s online database of more than 750 curated citizen science projects, specially aligned to Discover Magazine’s print and online articles, enabling readers to take immediate action on the topics they care about.
We may not all be as stoked as pilot Joe Kittinger was to jump out of a plane for the sake of science, but there are thousands of opportunities for us to nurture our curious minds with our feet planted firmly on terra firma. We hope the Citizen Science Salon helps inspire Discover’s 6.5 million readers to jump in with both feet!
Image: Wikimedia Commons