Citizen Science: Remaining Engaged This Summer

June 10, 2022

By April Kea

Summer is right around the corner! With school being out, it may be difficult to keep your gifted child engaged. But what if there were a way to continue to cultivate your child’s intellectual and social development while contributing to a greater community of peers, scientists, innovators, and even federal agencies? That’s where citizen science comes in!

Citizen science is defined as the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists.1  

A great example of the participation in citizen science is the website and mobile application iNaturalist, which is a joint initiative between National Geographic and the California Academy of Sciences to understand when and where organisms occur. iNaturalist is built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity all around the world to help scientists, like those at the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, find and use data gathered by everyday people. Not only is this an interactive way to contribute to scientific research, but it’s an awesome opportunity to share and discuss your findings with fellow naturalists, neighbors, and members of your community.

If your child prefers a more specific area of interest, there are many websites and mobile applications that cater to data gathering as it relates to topics that are more niche. For example, the website and mobile application eBird takes advantage of the unique knowledge and experiences of the average birdwatcher. This initiative, founded and run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, allows for the gathering of information that powers data-driven approaches to education and conservation. They even host The Cornell Lab Young Birders Event, which aims to bring together teenagers with a passion for birds.

Alternatively, if your child is more interested in exploring a whole platform of people-powered research projects to choose from, look no further than Zooniverse.org. This website offers a multitude of citizen science projects to get involved with. From projects like “Killer Whale Count” to “The Cricket Wing”, there’s no shortage of projects for your curious child to find engagement and community in.

So take some time this summer to get outdoors, connect with others, and contribute to projects that make a difference in the world!

1Language data is provided by Oxford Languages, part of Oxford University Press

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