Citizen Scientist Checklist
✓ Are you enthusiastic?
✓ Are you interested in science?
✓ Are you curious?
If you answered yes to these three questions, then you can be a citizen scientist! As a citizen scientist, you can play an important role in scientific research.
Your Role as a Citizen Scientist:
You don’t need formal training to be a citizen scientist, but you do need good observation skills!
Scientists use their senses all the time to gather relevant information. As a citizen scientist you will use your eyes and ears to collect important data and then share your findings with scientists. The data that you record will help scientists gain a better understanding of our precious planet.
You can record bird sightings in your area, frogs in a nearby wetland, butterflies in a field, or even stars in the sky. There are many projects to choose from. What all citizen science projects have in common, however, is that the data collected helps scientists make meaningful observations and help them come to some important conclusions about our planet.
This colossal collaboration between citizen scientists and real scientists allows for data to be collected across the globe and over long periods of times, even decades. No single scientist could collect this amount of data on their own. It is the strength in numbers that makes the data collected so impactful.
Meet two Citizen Scientists!
Sunniva Sorby and Hilde Fålun Strøm are polar ambassadors and citizen scientists. They spent months in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard collecting data as citizen scientists for climate change research.
Sorby and Strøm lived in a small, remote trapper’s hut, known as Bamsebu, 140 km away from civilization with no running water or electricity. They participated in several citizen science projects, collecting data to further our understanding of climate change and the effects on our planet.
The scope of their research was astounding. Together they:
- used drone technology to collect important temperature information;
- collected phytoplankton, microscopic algae that drift in our oceans drawing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere, throughout the Arctic winter. This is something few scientists have been able to accomplish. Their data will help scientists understand how melting glaciers influence phytoplankton;
- collected data for NASA, through a project called Aurorasaurus to better understand the science behind our northern lights; and
- dissected the stomachs of dead Fulmars, an Arctic seabird, looking for microplastics, as these birds tend to mistake microplastics as a food source.
All the data they collected as citizen scientists over 18 months will help scientists put together a better picture of the effects of climate change.
We asked Sorby and Strøm, upcoming guests on Spotlight with Scientists in School, to describe citizen science. Sorby explained, “Essentially, it’s public participation and collaboration and scientific research. And it’s all designed to increase our understanding of scientific knowledge. A ‘citizen scientist’ is you, it’s me, anybody can become a ‘citizen scientist’. And there’s all sorts of tools out there, apps on a phone, where people can actually download these apps and become a ‘citizen scientist’ and we need everyone to become one!”
Join us on Thursday, October 7th on Scientists in School’s Facebook page at 12:45 EST to watch the full interview with Sorby and Strøm. Their 18-month adventure in the Arctic as citizen scientists is truly inspiring and they made history as the first women to overwinter in the Arctic without men. Their hope is that people of all ages can work together to change the future as citizens of the world!
Some popular Citizen Science Projects for young scientists to join!
- Great Backyard Bird Count runs each February for four days. The world comes together for the love of birds. Everyone is invited to watch, count, and report birds they find. These observations help scientists better understand global bird populations before one of their annual migrations. This event will take place February 18-21, 2022.
- iNaturalist is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.
- Globe at Night is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure their night sky brightness.
- e-Butterfly is a real-time online database that provides a way for the butterfly community to report, organize, and access information about butterflies in Central and North American and the Caribbean
- Zooniverse allows citizen scientists to study authentic objects of interest, like faraway galaxies, historical records and diaries, or videos of animals in their natural habitats.
- Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a program with the National Audubon Society, where thousands of volunteers across the U.S., Canada, and other countries go out over a 24-hour period on one calendar day to count birds. This event will take place December 14, 2021-January 5, 2022.
Sense of Wonder
Developing observation skills is an important skill in science! We offer a virtual hands-on workshop that gets young scientists exploring and discovering their five senses. Sense of Wonder is geared for Kindergarten and Grade 1 students. In this 60-minute workshop, kids investigate sound and design their own shakers. They explore how their sense of taste and smell are connected. They also trick their eyes with 3D glasses that they get to make and keep! All workshops are led by a dynamic topic expert. Learn more by browsing our on-line catalogues.
Backyard Bird Watch
Get started today by exploring birds in your own backyard, forest, park, or school yard. Click here to download our free, user-friendly Backyard Bird Watch guide and watch for colourful feathered friends nearby.
Check out our website here for more educational resources that will help your kids develop their interest in science and the world around them.
As a citizen scientist you get to EXPLORE, SHARE, and TRACK your observations! Every piece of data collected will help scientists gather information to make informed decisions.
When you contribute your observations, YOU make a difference, too!