Citizen Science – Become a Scientist with a Click of a Button

Citizen science. You may have heard the term thrown around in the last few years. It has become the new way for ordinary residents to contribute data to real scientific projects around the country and even the world.

Researchers can’t be everywhere at once, not even all of the locations they would like to be. This is especially true if they are working on large-scale projects like tracking monarch butterfly migrations or monitoring water levels in an entire section of the country. They need help collecting data. That’s where citizen science applications and websites come in.

Simple observations by regular people out for a hike, bike, or kayak trip can provide important information that otherwise may go unnoticed. Several apps for smartphones have been developed that cover a range of environmental topics like river water levels, invasive species sightings, bird or butterfly migrations, and air quality. Some programs are more regional, some span the entire country, and some even go international. Many apps are free to download.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has compiled a database of citizen science apps that you can filter by topic. They even take suggestions if you know of an app they don’t have listed. Visit their website to see the full list. It’s pretty impressive that so many programs have been developed just to monitor what is going on around us.

epa citizen science apps

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