What is citizen science?
Citizen science projects are research projects run by scientists in partnership with the wider community. These partnerships often involve hands-on activities, like searching for wildlife and recording where you found it, or collecting water samples and testing the water. Activities may also be conducted online, like counting animals or classifying galaxies in photographs.
Many citizen science projects can focus on animals, like birds and bats. Astronomy and weather-focused projects are also popular. And there are a growing number of citizen science projects exploring other areas, including human health and biomedical science.
Technology has enabled recent growth in the number and quality of citizen science projects. Some projects have apps for smartphones that help record information. There are also many online citizen science projects, where participation can be completed on a home computer or on a smartphone.
There are a number of reasons you might get involved in a citizen science project. You might be fascinated by the topic of the project, or want to learn more about it. You might be concerned about changes you have noticed in the environment. You might want to make a contribution to a scientific project, you might want to use or develop a skill, or you might want to meet new people in your local community with similar interests.
An introductory video to citizen science:
To read more about the recent Citizen Science Conference in Adelaide, or for some tips on how to run the best projects, read this blog post.
Finding citizen science projects
Need help finding citizen science projects? Below are two citizen science ‘project finders’, where you can search for projects by location, by topic and more…
- Australian citizen science project finder (part of BioCollect, hosted by the Atlas of Living Australia)
- International citizen science project finder (SciStarter)
Regional initiatives in South Australia
On the Eyre Peninsula?
- Website: http://www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/eyrepeninsula/get-involved/citizen-science
- Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula runs numerous citizen science projects and conducts community training to support the monitoring of goannas, birds, koalas and king-tides in their region.
In the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin?
- Website: http://www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/samurraydarlingbasin/get-involved/citizen-science
- Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin runs numerous citizen science projects and conducts community training to support the monitoring of water, birds and bats in their region.
Other citizen science projects you can contribute to – local, national and international
- Website: http://grutznerlab.weebly.com/echidna-csi.html
- Use a phone app to record echidna sightings.
- Collect echidna poo for science (once you have learnt how to identify it)!
- Website: https://www.galaxyzoo.org/
- An online project for people who love astronomy or want to learn about it.
- Help classify galaxies: over 1 million people have participated and helped to classify over 100 million galaxies!
- Website: https://www.zooniverse.org/
- The success of Galaxy Zoo has led to the development of a wide range of citizen science projects on the ‘Zooniverse’ platform.
- Zooniverse offers online projects in biology, history, language, literature, medicine, physics and more (over 100 projects available). You can help scientists identify, classify or transcribe all sorts of things, whatever takes your interest!
Frog Watch South Australia
- Website: http://www.frogwatchsa.com.au/
- Use a phone app to record frog calls and conduct habitat surveys.
- Have your frog calls identified, or use the online resources to develop skills in frog identification.
- Website: https://fold.it/portal/
- An online game where you help researchers by solving ‘puzzles’ based on the structures of proteins.
- Training is provided – learn how to ‘fold’ proteins for biomedical research, then compete online as an individual or a team.
- Website: https://australianmuseum.net.au/digivol
- Become a ‘Digital Volunteer’ for the Australian Museum.
- Help transcribe Museum data so it is discoverable online for anyone to access anywhere in the world.
For more citizen science project suggestions, read this post.