Buttercup Learning
July 6, 2022

How to get involved in citizen science projects

The amount of data that scientists can collect has skyrocketed in recent years. This is thanks to new technologies and methods, as well as the rise in citizen science projects. As the name suggests, citizen science projects involve people outside…

The amount of data that scientists can collect has skyrocketed in recent years. This is thanks to new technologies and methods, as well as the rise in citizen science projects. As the name suggests, citizen science projects involve people outside of the scientific community who help gather data on various topics. They’re usually organized by academic researchers or companies looking for insights into their products or services — and there are quite a few examples out there!

If you’ve ever wondered how you could get involved with this growing movement, here’s a quick guide:

 What is citizen science?

Citizen science is the practice of involving the public in scientific research. It’s a great way to get involved in science, learn about the world around us, and contribute to important projects. Citizen scientists can help with data collection, analysis, and interpretation.

One of the best things about citizen science is that it’s open to anyone who wants to participate—you don’t need any specialized skills or experience (though there will be times when you’ll need some training). You can do citizen science in person or online, on your own or as part of an organized group.

Two children collecting soil samples

What do volunteers do?

Volunteering in citizen science projects can be rewarding, but it’s important to keep in mind that the work you do will change depending on the project.

  • What is the work you do? 

Volunteers may play different roles in a given project, ranging from data entry to analysis and interpretation. Some projects might require more up-front skills than others, such as knowing how to use certain software or having a scientific background that helps with understanding study objectives.

  • How much time does it take? 

The amount of time you devote will depend on what type of volunteer role you choose—some projects only require a few hours per month while others ask for regular participation over several months. In addition to regular participation requirements, some organizations will ask volunteers who are participating remotely (for example, via email) if they would like periodic check-ins with their mentors or other project organizers by phone or video chat once per week during set hours so questions can be answered promptly.

  • What skills should I have before joining? 

Many citizen science projects ask for volunteers who have basic computer literacy skills so they can complete tasks on their own without having someone else directly guide them through each step (but not all). It’s also helpful if volunteers have some familiarity with biology since many citizen science projects focus on studying plants and animals found locally in nature or specific ecosystems around us; however this isn’t always required since there are many opportunities at most sites where participants simply observe without collecting any data themselves!

Why volunteer?

Volunteering can be a great way to get involved in your community, make a difference to the environment and gain new skills. You may also enjoy meeting new people or enjoy being part of a team.

  • Make a difference to the environment by helping monitor wildlife habitats.
  • Learn new skills while you’re at it, such as how to use technology like GIS tools or record data on projects.
  • Enjoy spending time outdoors in the fresh air with other volunteers who have similar interests as you do!

What’s in it for you?

The best part of participating in citizen science projects is the opportunity to learn new skills and make a difference for our planet. From understanding environmental issues more deeply to mastering new technologies like GPS mapping or data analysis software, participants can gain valuable knowledge that can apply to other areas of their lives.

Participating in citizen science projects can also be a great way to meet like-minded people who share your passion for protecting the environment. In addition to supporting each other’s efforts on behalf of global conservation efforts, you may even make some lasting friendships along the way!

And finally, what better way is there than engaging with nature itself? Whether it be bird-watching or collecting water samples from streams and lakes near you—participating in citizen science projects allows everyone an opportunity to connect with nature without leaving home or your local area!

Girls taking part in bird watching in a wood for a citizen science project

People who volunteer for citizen science projects perform valuable work and benefit from the experience.

Volunteers get to be part of a project that is important to them, meet new people and learn about new things, make a difference in the world and feel like they are part of a community.

So now that you know what citizen science is, how it can be used to advance research and what types of projects are out there, where do you go from here? 

There are many ways to get involved in citizen science. You could start with some of the projects listed on websites like Zooniverse or SciStarter. Zooniverse lists everything from hunting for comets to tagging penguins, to exploring seabirds.

In the UK check out the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch or The Woodland Trusts’ Nature’s Calendar, which tracks the seasons. Others cover a specific time period – like the Big Butterfly Count in July and August. The Countryside surveys are a way of finding a survey that’s specific to your local area. The Natural History Museum has both access to its own projects and downloadable resources to enable you to set up your very own citizen science project. 

And don’t forget —it’s a great way to meet other people interested in getting involved with citizen science and having a positive impact!

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