The Oxford English Dictionary defines Citizen Science as "scientific work undertaken by members of the general public, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions."
Citizen science is beneficial to both the scientists and the citizens. For citizens, it gets people involved in real scientific projects, where they can make a difference. The public can help with data collection, analysis, or reporting, which allows the scientists to focus more on the problem instead of data collection.
Many agencies provide a space where Citizen Science projects reside such as SciStarter, Zooniverse, CitizenScience, and many government agencies. Citizens can browse the projects, find an interest, and get started. Many of the projects are done on your own time with your cell phone or at your computer.
According to SciStarter, Citizen Science projects have four common variables.
(1) Anyone can participate. There are projects for children, teens, adults, professionals, and retirees)
(2) Participants use the same protocol so data can be combined and be high quality
(3) Data can help real scientists come to real conclusions
(4) A wide community of scientists and volunteers work together and share data to which the public, as well as scientists, have access.
There is something for everyone. For teens who like to game, they might become involved in one of the creative DNA stacking projects that are set up as puzzles and games. For adults looking to connect to people with the same interests, the options are endless. People concerned about the environment, might become involved in bird counting, reporting the locations of possible invasive plants. Maybe you are more of an at home person. You can observe dog behaviors, answer questions about how you eat, count insects you find in your home. The projects are truly endless! Check out the blogs below for more ideas.