Citizen Science Projects

What is citizen science? Citizen Science (CS), also known as crowd-sourced science, is when members of the general public help with the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world, to meaningfully contribute to scientific research as well as to increase in the public's understanding of science. By participating in citizen science projects teachers can help students critically analyze the way that scientists collect data, enter data, and make sense of what they find. This helps understand how the scientific method is applied in the real world.

Theses citizen science projects are organized by their related BioSTEAM projects to inspire our designs, but can also be accessed independently to explore fun citizen science projects.  They are a unique way to go outside and connect with nature. We learn to quietly observe, document and in the process, get inspired. This page contains a collection of curated citizen science projects that we have tested out and highly recommend.

CS: Space Messengers

The citizen science apps for Space Messengers focus on helping scientists studying and/or monitoring earth or outer space. The fields of study are related to the workshop speaker topics to delve deeper into the science that was introduced; astrophysics, aerospace, particle physics,etc. Each app was field tested by our team for easy and fun access.


NeMO-Net is a single player iPad game where players help NASA classify coral reefs by painting 3D and 2D images of coral. Players can rate the classifications of other players and level up in the food chain as they explore and classify coral reefs and other shallow marine environments and creatures from locations all over the world!

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Backyard worlds: Planet 9

We need your help searching for new objects at the edges of our solar system. In this project, we'll ask you to help us distinguish real celestial objects from image artifacts in data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission. The real objects are brown dwarfs and low-mass stars, the Sun's nearest neighbors. You may find an object closer than Proxima Centauri (the closest star to the Sun) or even discover the Sun's hypothesized ninth planet, which models suggest might appear in these images.

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Spiral Graph

The ability of the human brain to find and process patterns is far superior to any computer. Spiral patterns in disk galaxies are easily seen and followed by people but computer algorithms have a harder time determining where spirals begin and end, especially if they aren't continuous. That's where you come in! By tracing the spiral arms you see in galaxy images, you are giving our computer algorithm a boost so it can accurately measure how tightly wrapped the structure is.

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Space Fluff

Help unravel the secrets of the fluffiest objects in the universe! There is a mysterious group of galaxies up there, hiding in darkness. They are faint, small (for galactic standards of course), and battered by spending eons being robbed of their gas and stars. And yet, they can teach us the secrets of dark matter and of galaxy evolution. Help to identify those pesky objects and artifacts that our algorithms can't differentiate from
galaxies. Knowing what these objects look like will allow us to better our model and will also give a powerful contribution to science.

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Community Snow Observation

This project aims to achieve a better understanding of snow depth variability in mountainous regions. We are recruiting community-based observers (citizen scientists), including backcountry professionals and recreationists, to help gather snow observations.

The snowpack data gathered by citizen scientists is being used to help us better interpret satellite and airborne snow measurements collected by NASA and other agencies. We are also using these datasets to create better water runoff models. Predicting and understanding variability in water runoff is important due to effects on snow avalanche hazards, water resources, ecology, tourism, and the impacts of a changing climate.

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CS: Pollinator Concentrator

This series of citizen science projects were curated for the Pollinator Concentrator project which addresses the concern of pollinator decline to raise awareness to the importance of biodiversity. Through this project you can explore nature-inspired design through the Pollinator Concentrator, a site-specific, interspecies installation by BioSTEAM artist, Ana MacArthur created in partnership with Taos Land Trust. 

These citizen science projects help scientists track, monitor and identify the biology, abundance/decline, or migration of pollinators, locally and around the world. Most projects include fun apps that make it easy to snap photos and identify the species on the spot. All the projects encourage going outside and observing nature, whether at the Rio Fernando Park where this installation lives, in our backyards, in our school gardens or out in our community.

Citizen science projects allow for quiet observation and build wonder and connection with nature, while providing important data that helps scientists to preserve biodiversity and pollinators. The experience of studying pollinators in such detail can also inspire our art and design, while improving science skills!

Bumble Bee Watch

Bumble Bee Watch is a collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees. Because these animals are widely distributed the best way to keep track of them is with a group of volunteers across the country equipped with cameras. With any luck, you might help us to find remnant populations of rare species before they go extinct. Have fun while learning more about bumble bees and the vital role they play in our environment!

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iNaturalist: Biodiversity of New Mexico

Every observation can contribute to biodiversity science. We share your findings with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to help scientists find and use your data. All you have to do is observe. iNaturalist has a free app to easily snap photos and help identify species. It is also part of the umbrella project Biodiversity of the 50 States.

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Migratory Dragonfly Monitoring

Do you love dragonflies? Become part of an international network of citizen scientists and help monitor the spring and fall movements of the 5 main migratory species in North America, or report on these species throughout the year at a pond or wetland of your choice. The Migratory Dragonfly Monitoring project has an app that will help you find spots to look for dragonflies near you, help you identify the dragonflies and damselflies you see in the field, and learn more about the species you find and submit sightings from the field.

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Audubon Hummingbirds at Home

As flowers bloom earlier because of warming temperatures, the impact on hummingbirds which rely on nectar could be severe. The National Audubon Society has launched a new Citizen Science project to document hummingbird sightings across the country, using a free mobile app that identifies bird species as well as the plants that feed them. Download the Audubon Humminbirds at Home app to get started.

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Monarch Migration

Monarch migration is a science research tool for tracking the migration behavior of monarch butterflies. Its primary function is to allow users to quickly enter location information and flight characteristics (body direction and flight direction) for upload to a cloud-based server. The directional data is gathered from the mobile devices compass. There are two projects this will support: Marine Monarchs and Migration Compasses.

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eBird - a great flocking app

Much more than an online checklist for birders, eBird just may be the largest biological citizen science project in the world. Globally, over 350,000 birders use eBird, a website and app created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, to enter and share bird data - all of which is freely available to researchers and curious web surfers.

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Nature’s Notebook - Signs of the seasons are shifting

Phenology, the study of the interplay of species and seasonal change, is a key indicator for monitoring climate change. Now, just about everyone can help add to this important dataset by using the National Phenology Network’s (NPN) app - Nature’s Notebook. The app allows amateur as well as professional naturalists to regularly record observations of plants and animals to generate long-term data sets about their movements and/or life-stages.

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