How To Participate In Citizen Science During A Pandemic

Science Friday is an official partner for Citizen Science Month! Join us online throughout April to become a citizen scientist yourself.

Help make citizen science more fun and open to everyone!

Science Friday is conducting a citizen science research study, and we need your help.

Click here to participate

It is a great time to become a citizen scientist. 

This April, we’re celebrating Citizen Science Month, connecting you with new opportunities to find purpose, community, and even escape as you support the following research efforts:

 Every one of these projects can be done by anyone anywhere in the country, is social-distancing-friendly, and needs the help of regular people like you to tackle important scientific challenges. 

Dive in, and check back often—we’ll be adding livestream Q&A’s with researchers, lessons, activities, crafts, and other fun stuff throughout the month. Join our citizen science newsletter here.

The Zooniverse matches researchers with one of the most powerful image analysis tools there is: your brain. Study real images and videos gathered by researchers, answer simple questions about them, and you’ll help contribute to our understanding of our world, our history, our Universe, no special training or prior knowledge required. 

  • Participate: Browse and join hundreds of projects on any topic at Zooniverse.org/projects. Here’s a few to get you started: 
    • Planet Four: Take a virtual trip to Mars’ south pole! Help planetary scientists learn about the seasons on the red planet.
    • Anti-Slavery Manuscripts: Do you have trouble identifying a handwritten “F” from an “S”? So do computers—join us to start training your brain for this important project that is working to make historical anti-slavery artifacts from the Boston Library accessible for global research, all while training AI to read human handwriting.
    • The University of Wyoming Raccoon Project: Join the project to classify videos capturing raccoons, and other creatures of the night, as they solve puzzle boxes for treats and science!
    • Bash the Bug: Become a Basher! Use your pattern-matching skills to help fight antibiotic resistance and Tuberculosis with a few clicks.
  • Listen: Laura Trouille, Director of Citizen Science and Co-Investigator for Zooniverse, joins Science Friday to share four projects that are particularly good at distracting and amusing us

    Snap A Nature Pic: The City Nature Challenge

    1. Visit iNaturalist.org, register, and join the Science Friday project!
    2. Download the iNaturalist app from the AppStore or Google Play and start photographing wild plants and animals.
    3. Upload your observations to iNaturalist!

    Join a truly global effort to document biodiversity by taking pictures of wild plants and animals and uploading them to the iNaturalist citizen science app. Once uploaded, scientists, naturalists, and enthusiasts around the planet will help identify your finds to build an open online nature library used by nature lovers and researchers alike.

    • Participate: Download the iNaturalist app or visit iNaturalist.org to register, and join the Science Friday City Nature Challenge project., then get photographing! If your city is also participating in the City Nature Challenge, any observations you make April 24th – 27th will also count for the City Nature Challenge! Check here to see the list of cities.
    • Listen: City Nature Challenge Co-Founder Lila Higgins joined Science Friday to share her enthusiasm and strategies for documenting living things, even in a time of social distancing.
    • Watch the party: On Tuesday, April 21st we invited City Nature Challenge organizers from around the country and world to rep their city biodiversity pride, play a rousing game of “WILD or NOT?!” and get tips on nature viewing while social distancing. Watch it on Facebook, and join us for one of our upcoming Citizen Science Parties.
    • Teach: Want to play your own game of Wild or Not? Here are the Wild or Not Google Slides.
    • Get Kiddos Outside: City Nature Challenge has assembled a totally awesome Education Toolkit, including tips for teaching and learning outside and a massive library of educator-developed lessons and activities for all grade levels. We’ve also pulled together this Guide To Diving Into The City Nature Challenge for parents and educators.

    Look Out The Window: I See Change

    A woman holds her phone up to take photos of pink cherry blossoms on a tree
    Credit: Shutterstock
    1. Observe your environment outside by noticing changes in things like trees, flowers, weather, and streams 
    2. Share the changes you observe at ISeeChange.org

    I See Change is a global online community that posts about what they notice changing in the environment. Posts are synced with weather and climate data and broadcast to the community to investigate bigger picture climate trends. Over time, community members can track how climate is changing, season to season, year to year, and understand the impacts on daily life.

    • Participate: Browse posts by community members, see projects looking for observations, and sign up at ISeeChange.org
    • Listen: I See Change CEO and founder Julia Kumari Drapkin joined Science Friday to talk about the project and how communities can come together to document climate change.
    • Join The Discussion: Join our Zoom and Facebook Live event on Tuesday, April 14th at 4pm ET to share your observations of Spring, learn how to awaken your senses to change in your environment and contribute your observations as a citizen scientist. We’ll also get crafty and share community activity ideas for capturing spring change with your neighbors. Sign up here or click the link below!

    Register for Livestream


    Get To Know Your Pipes: Crowd The Tap

    water pump pipe
    Credit: Shutterstock
    1. Find your water pipes
    2. Use a magnet and penny to figure out what they’re made of
    3. Report your findings at CrowdTheTap.org

    Help create a national inventory of water pipe material with Crowd The Tap, and take the first step towards safe drinking water. The material of our infrastructure affects the safety of our water. The inventory will help prioritize areas for tap water testing and infrastructure replacement. What kind of water pipes do you have?

    • Participate: Visit SciStarter to learn how to find your water pipes and identify their material, then register and report your results.
    • Listen: Hear Crowd The Tap’s Caren Cooper on Science Friday as she discusses why a national water pipe inventory is so important.
    • Teach: Chemistry teachers, want to Crowd The Tap with your students? SciStarter has a high school chemistry lesson.
    • Do: Why do some pipes add metal to water? The pipes actually dissolve a little bit! Experiment with metal solubility in this easy penny polishing experiment from The Exploratorium.
    • Watch: Water quality expert Marc Edwards and Crowd the Tap’s Caren Cooper joined Zoom and Facebook Live audiences for a conversation about water safety. Watch the event recording and join the conversation on Facebook.


    Track The Spread Of Coronavirus: COVID Near You

    Sick girl with flu lying in bed at home, checking temperature with thermometer and on her tablet
    Credit: Shutterstock
    1. Visit COVIDNearYou.org
    2. Anonymously report your zip code and any symptoms you have every day or week
    3. See a national map of reported COVID-19 symptoms and positive COVID-19 tests

    COVID Near You uses crowdsourced data to visualize maps to help citizens and public health agencies identify current and potential hotspots for the recent pandemic coronavirus, COVID-19.


    citizen science month, april 2020 logo with dark blue background and atomic structure-like graphic connecting the dots over the i's

    We’re thrilled to be a Citizen Science Month partner, hosted by SciStarter.  SciStarter is where millions of people discover opportunities to participate in citizen science, a movement that’s sweeping the globe. On SciStarter, there are citizen science projects for everyone!


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Meet the Writer

About Ariel Zych

Ariel Zych is Science Friday’s education director. She is a former teacher and scientist who spends her free time making food, watching arthropods, and being outside.

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