Methods Matter: Citizen Science Techniques For Exploring Our World

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | April 28, 2016 2:00 pm
Citizen Science Techniques

Each of the thousands of citizen science projects are unique, yet many rely on similar techniques and methods.

Below, we highlight five that use some of the most popular methods including: the use of low cost, portable sensors; bioblitzes; bird banding; standardized surveys; and photography.

Find more than 1,600 projects and events in the SciStarter Global Project Finder.
The SciStarter Team

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Orchid Observers: Tracking the Effect of Climate Change Through Citizen Science

By Guest | April 26, 2016 10:23 pm
Image Credit: Lucy Robinson, Orchid Observers

Image Credit: Lucy Robinson, Orchid Observers

by Russ Campbell

Orchids have long held an enigmatic mystique.  Perhaps their origins as tropical and subtropical plants found in exotic locales and an early lack of understanding of how they survive have contributed to their status.  By the 19th century, orchids were a status of the British well-to-do.

The famed voyager and scientist Charles Darwin was also obsessed with orchids.  After the publication of his famous book, On the Origin of Species, Darwin devoted much of his time to exploring the connecting between the orchid and its ecosystem.

Now, you don’t need to be Charles Darwin to help contribute to the science of orchids and their environment.  The Orchid Observers, a citizen science project based out of Natural History Museum in London, is asking plant aficionados armed with their smart phones and a careful tread to provide data back to the museum so researchers can study the impact of climate change on flowering time of UK’s orchids.

I interviewed Lucy Robinson, the citizen science programme manager at the museum, by email to elaborate on The Orchid Observers. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Environment

The Science Behind WeCureALZ: A Participatory Research Project Tackling Alzheimer’s Disease

By Guest | April 22, 2016 4:13 pm

Image Credit: Human Computation Institute CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0, Graphic by

by Egle Marija Ramanauskaite

Earlier this year, we introduced you to WeCureALZ – a groundbreaking new project that for the first time is set to use the power of citizen science to conduct Alzheimer’s research. Enabled by the support of the BrightFocus Foundation, the team is already preparing for the alpha testing of our first online activity – a game that will allow everyone to search for stalled capillaries in the brains of Alzheimer’s-affected mice.

With a beta launch planned later this year, we thought it was about time we tell you the key part of the story – the science behind WeCureALZ, and what is it that you – citizen scientists – will be helping researchers do! Read More

MORE ABOUT: Alzheimer's

Highlighting Citizen Science at the USA Science and Engineering Festival

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | April 20, 2016 7:12 am

citscidayWhat better way to kick of a month long celebration of citizen science than at the USA Science and Engineering Festival (USASEF), probably the largest science festival in the country?

And kick it off we did! For two days, the SciStarter booth at USASEF featured citizen science projects that people of all ages could learn about and participate in, and several of its major partners including Discover Magazine, Astronomy Magazine, the Crowd and the Cloud and of course, the Science Cheerleaders.

Day 1 featured a live 1-hour Hangout on Air organized by Crowd & Cloud, an upcoming 4-part public television series about citizen science and how mobile technology is changing the way participatory research is conducted. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Events

Why You Should Be Excited about Citizen Science Day 2016, in One Amazing Video

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | April 14, 2016 5:29 pm

If you haven’t heard already, Citizen Science Day is fast approaching!! April 16 is the big day and events celebrating CitSci run all the way through May 21. From being at science festivals to nationwide bioblitzes, there’s something for everyone.

To get you all pumped up we’re sharing this amazing video made by folks from The Crowd and the Cloud, an upcoming “4-part public television series exploring the new frontier of citizen science in the age of mobile technology.” They are also going to be live streaming a Google Hangout session from the 4th Annual USA Science and Engineering Festival which will include projects featured at the SciStarter booth. Watch this space for more details !!



CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Events

Celebrate National Volunteers Week and Earth Day with Citizen Science!

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | April 14, 2016 3:00 pm
April is YOUR month, citizen scientists!
This is National Volunteer Week so get involved in a research project in need of your help. Find your favorite project on and, now featuring SciStarter’s database of projects.
Need another reason? Look no further thanSaturday, 4/16, Citizen Science DayEvents  are scheduled around the world. We bet there’s one near you.

Still wallowing in indecision? Well, 4/22 is Earth Day and we’ve selected five awesome Earth Day projects we think you’ll love.

The SciStarter Team

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Environment, Events

How Citizen Science is Helping Us Cross the Quantum Computing Barrier

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | April 13, 2016 2:00 am
Quantum Computers - The Future of Computing

Making Quantum Work – The Future of Computing (Image Credit: Shutterstock / winui )

Author’s Note: This story describing the research of Dr. Jacob Sherson and the origin of the citizen science game Quantum Moves was first published in August 2014. Today the team behind Quantum Moves published its findings in the journal Nature (paywall). In an interview to Nature News, Jacob Sherson, who led the creation of the game said that he was “completely amazed by the results” that citizen scientists were able to accomplish. This article talks about an earlier version of the game, and new Mac and PC editions have since been made available.

“Every story has its own beginning”, writes Jacob Sherson, an associate professor of Physics at Aarhus University (AU) in Denmark on his blog. The story of his citizen science project, Quantum Moves, began at the Max Planck Institute in Garching, Munich where he was a post-doctoral. Along with his colleagues, he was working on an experimental system that could manipulate individual atoms, a fundamental requirement of creating a quantum computer.

I’m no physicist myself and it took me a while to even begin to understand how a quantum computer might work. So bear with me here as I attempt to describe it to you. The guts of any computer are really tiny transistors that can be in one of two states; 0 or 1. Thus all information that passes through a computer is represented by a string of ‘bits’ which are either 0s or 1s. One way by which computing power has increased exponentially over the years is by manufacturing smaller and smaller transistors. This allows us to pack more of them within a given space hence increasing the ability of the computer to process larger amounts of information at once. But as you can see, there exists an inherent size limitation here. We will soon reach a point where the smallest transistor would have been made with currently available technology. So where do we go from there for more processing power?

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Conversations in CitSci: Kay Havens of Project BudBurst

By Guest | April 9, 2016 7:32 am
Spring is in the air! (Credit: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Spring is in the air! (Credit: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The beauty of citizen science is the ability for non-professional researchers to get up close and personal with science. 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?
In our new series, “Conversations in CitSci”, we speak with the people behind the projects.

By Sarah Dunifon

“Plants have great stories to tell, if we take the time to listen to them,” says Kay Havens, consultant with Project BudBurst. “Project BudBurst (PBB) is a national campaign to track plant phenology which is the timing of natural events like budburst, first flower opening, full bloom, leaf color change and leaf drop,”. By knowing these phenophases (i.e. the timing of these events), we can better understand what effects climate change may be having on plants. With warmer springs, plants move through their leafing and blooming phases earlier. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Environment

Celebrate National Citizen Science Day: Find an Event Near You!

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | April 6, 2016 10:47 pm
Celebrate Citizen Science
National Citizen Science Day kicks off April 16 and runs through May 21 with events scheduled around the world. We highlight five below. (Stay tuned for more featured events, including bioblitzes!) Find more on the SciStarter Events Page.
The SciStarter Team

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Citizen Science, Events

One step closer to global citizen science discovery: SciStarter partners with Canada and Australia

By Arvind Suresh (Editor) | March 29, 2016 10:23 pm

Originally posted by Peter Brenton, CSIRO, Australia

Discovering and connecting with citizen science projects at a global scale has never been closer to reality than now! Over the past few months the teams at SciStarter ( – based in the USA) and the Atlas of Living Australia ( – ALA) have been collaborating to enable project information about citizen science projects to be shared between the two systems so that people can easily find and connect with citizen science activities wherever they may be operating, and regardless of which system the projects were registered in.

[Editor’s note: The David Suzuki Foundation in Canada teamed up with SciStarter in 2015 to encourage science researchers in Canada to engage more citizen science partners through SciStarter’s North America-wide database and international reach.]

scistarter-squareThis has been a dream of many people for a long time. Over the last 10 years or so, several different project discovery platforms have evolved independently around the world and the internet allows people anywhere to register their projects on any of the platforms. However, it has been becoming increasingly difficult and confusing for people to find and connect with projects of interest to them in their local areas because the systems have not been connected with each other. Often thing aren’t easy though and connecting them up has proven to be pretty challenging due to incompatibility of data structures and differences in the level of technical development in different platforms.

SciStarter and have been sharing project information within the USA for a few months already, but the connection with the ALA is the first successful international connection. The ALA is Australia’s national biodiversity data aggregation system and provides hosted web-based infrastructure to support people in Australia running biodiversity related citizen science projects including the collection of standards-based biodiversity data. The BioCollect system ( provides both a project register tool to help connect people with projects, as well as a powerful and flexible data collection facility for those who want to use it.

biocollect-squareThe Australian Citizen Science Association ( – ACSA) and European Citizen Science Association ( – ECSA) are also working towards providing discovery and access points for citizen science projects at a continental level. To facilitate this and related goals, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC is also leading an international data and metadata working group in conjunction with the American Citizen Science Association ( – CSA), ECSA, ACSA and the Open Geospatial Consortium ( -OGC) to develop a data interchange standard for citizen science project information ( It is anticipated that this will enable other platforms to also begin connecting up to share their project information too.

According to Anne Bowser, coChair of the data and metadata working group and Senior Program Associate at the Wilson Center, “The international connection between SciStarter and ALA will heighten our awareness of the range of citizen science projects operating on different geographic sales. This is a huge step towards building a global community of citizen science researchers and practitioners, and will pave the way for new research collaborations and partnerships.”


Add or find a citizen science event in celebration of Citizen Science Day!


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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