Science is one way we can learn more about the universe around us and prepare for the future.
Citizen science is science done with help from volunteers. This often takes the form of people in the community helping scientists with data collection. This can be very local, like people gathering data on the nutrient levels of a nearby stream, or much broader in scale, such as having volunteers classify galaxies or document bird migration patterns. Citizen science also often has the goal of bringing scientific knowledge and involvement to the community by getting ordinary people involved.
The most obvious benefit is that citizen science gives scientists access to huge amounts of data that would be very hard for them to get otherwise. Scientists’ ability to process, analyze, and report on the increased amount of data is also aided through citizen science. This expansion of resources allows scientists to take on projects that would not likely be possible otherwise.
Citizen science allows people who are naturally curious about the world around them to harness that energy for scientific progress while satisfying their interests. It also has a positive effect on the policy-making process. If people are informed and engaged in the world around them and the scientific process, they can influence science policy for the better.
Citizen science can be especially helpful for environmental science. Citizen naturalists are people who are concerned about the environment and therefore volunteer their time to make observations that will help in wildlife preservation and habitat protection.
Some projects help you take direct steps to restore habitats or monitor their restoration. The Great Sunflower Project, for instance, gives people resources to plant sunflowers and observe the effects of pesticides on pollinators, track the number of pollinators, and evaluate and improve pollinator habitats.
Citizen naturalists can also volunteer to inform members of the community about how to make their area a good place for wildlife. Citizen science is a great way for you to get directly involved in making the world and your local community a better place for your children and grandchildren.
How You Can Be a Citizen Scientist
Citizen science is easy to get involved with. Websites like SciStarter list hundreds of projects, so you can pick one that interests you. Local parks, Audubon Societies, and wildlife projects also often have ways for citizens to get involved in local projects. Citizen science is fun and it lets you contribute directly to research that will help us prepare for the changing future, and ensure that we preserve the world we love for the generations after us.