How to be a citizen scientist

How to be a citizen scientist

 Canada, Environment, News
 Tuesday April 12, 2016
 No Comments

Let SciStarter play matchmaker, connecting your interests with its more than 1,100 citizen science projects. (Credit: Brendon Purdy Photography)

I’ve spotted humpback whales from my neighbourhood beach. But I didn’t record my sightings for science!

So this year, for Citizen Science Day (April 16), I’m downloading the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network WhaleReport App.

Twenty-three species of cetaceans and sea turtles have been recorded in British Columbia waters. Many populations are at-risk and under-studied. The B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network relies on people like you and me — plus lighthouse keepers, ecotourism professionals, mariners and recreational boaters — to record sightings of whales, dolphins, porpoises and sea turtles. Participation is free, kid-friendly and requires zero gear!

Who are citizen scientists?

Anyone who wants to be one! (Look at the person next to you glued to a smartphone — even they could be filing a citizen science report!)

For example, do you road bike? Sign up for Roadkill Survey for Road Biker. By identifying and recording types of wildlife killed by traffic, you’ll help collect clues about wildlife distribution, activity and responses to climate change. You might look at roadkill differently on your next holiday road trip…

How can I choose a project?

Let SciStarter play matchmaker, connecting your interests with its more than 1,100 citizen science projects. Join scientists, community leaders and people like you and me to observe and collect data on a range of topics, from bacteria to child behaviour to whales to butterflies. Research can involve one person or a collaboration of millions.

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What gear do you need?

Few projects require specialty gear. Usually a smartphone will do to record sightings, take pictures and upload data. For example, to help butterflies, you need a digital camera, notebook and computer with internet access.

What if I don’t know how to ID plants and animals?

Citizen scientist projects aren’t limited to critters. Some, such as Autoimmune Citizen Scientist, involve health issues:

“Our goal is to bring the autoimmune community together in a scientific way, such that it will change the way that autoimmune disease is treated in healthcare today.

Users will record symptoms, treatments, and results using the Autoimmune Citizen Science mobile application. We plan to then aggregate that data and share it with our users so that they can see (anonymously) what is working for other people with similar symptoms.”

Whether you join an ongoing project with SciStarter or attend one of a hundred events for Citizen Science Day, April 16 to May 21, you’ll be part of a community of doers!

What else would you like to know about becoming a citizen scientist?

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green