Citizen Science Projects

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"“Citizen Scientists” are people who conduct volunteer scientific research without formal credentials. The data gathered and reported by citizen scientists is used by professional scientists and is typically available to the public. Anyone with an interest can be a citizen scientist; the complexity ranges from making and reporting simple observations with the naked eye to using very high tech equipment costing thousands of dollars.

In this weblog, I’ll try to point to interesting projects and bits of news related to the work being done by citizen scientists — and the organizations that support them. I’ll start off here by creating a post for each of the projects I’ve been reading about recently.

Why I’m interested

This is the third year that Steve and I have participated in GGRO’s “Hawk Watch” program. About a year ago, I realized that one of the things I really liked about the project is that it’s doing real science. I joined because I wanted to learn to identify hawks; I stayed because it was fun. But a big part of its continuing appeal for me is that we’re actually collecting data that will be used by scientists, and that may tell us all sorts of interesting things about our environment (perhaps not even about hawks!)

GGRO lead to more interest in birding, and I discovered that the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has all sorts of interesting “Citizen Science” projects, where regular people contribute and pool useful data. This in turn made me remember that there used to be lots of amateur astronomy projects that do the same thing — I was happy to find that they’re still around, too, and doing even more interesting work than ever before.

I’m fascinated by this concept of regular people getting involved in science (especially during a time when science itself seems under attack by our own government). The scientific method as taught in most schools is pretty dry and boring. At HawkWatch, I’ve watched the idea come alive for people. Can we count that osprey we saw on our way up the hill to set up for the day? No, we can’t — it wouldn’t be accurate data about what we saw during our observation period.

So I’ve started this weblog to keep track of all these citizen science projects I’ve been able to find. There are a lot of projects to add to the site, which I’ll be doing over time as an ongoing project. Me at the scope on Hawk Hill.

Who’s behind

This weblog is created and maintained by Terrie Miller." (