Have you ever witnessed the crocuses blooming a little earlier than usual or noticed a new species at your bird feeder, and thought, "I wonder if others in my community are seeing the same things?" Wouldn't it be neat if your backyard observations could be included in real scientific investigations? With citizen science, they can be! Through citizen science, members of the public collaborate with professionals to conduct scientific studies. Citizen science is a fun, family-friendly way to get outside, explore the distribution of species (biogeography) in your local area, fine-tune your observation and analytical skills, and contribute to real science and conservation efforts. Recent reports have even indicated that participation in citizen science projects has positive impacts on children's cognitive and psychological development and their attitudes toward nature as adults. Our July challenge- sign up to participate in at least one of the following citizen science programs:
Cornell Ornithology Lab's
1. Birds in Forested Landscapes: BFL is a study of birds and the habitats that they live in. Participants record types of trees, sizes, ages, elevations and latitudes. Then, they observe the birds and habitats at three levels: the survey point, the study site and the surrounding landscape.
Participants help Cornell scientists identify rare ladybug species that live around the country. They collect ladybugs using the "How to Guide," then photograph the ladybugs and upload the images along with the time, date and location via an online submission form.
Children use their senses to collect data through observation and fun activities.
Through Budburst, citizen scientists research plants and climate change. First, participants use a list to identify a plant and describe where it is located (including latitude and longitude). They then determine the phenological stage using a field guide. Finally, observations are recorded online.