Dr Philip Roetman
Australian Citizen Science Association - South Australian Chapter
The Australian Citizen Science Association (www.citizenscience.org.au) exists to advance the cause of citizen science in Australia. Philip Roetman from ACSA introduces us to a sample of some of his favourite Citizen Science Projects – both local and global.
What is Citizen Science?
Citizen Science projects are scientific research and environmental monitoring projects run in partnership with the wider community. These partnerships often involve hands-on activities, like searching for wildlife and recording where you found it. Citizen Science projects can focus on animals, like birds, bats, bees or bettongs. Or they can address how we manage local environments, from our gardens, to parks, to nature reserves.
This article has been reproduced from the 2020 SASTA Journal Number 1. Previous issues of the SASTA Journal can be found in the members area.
Technology has enabled recent growth in the number and quality of Citizen Science projects. Some projects have apps for smartphones that help record information. There are also many online Citizen Science projects, where participation can be completed on a home computer or on a smartphone.
Exemplars of Citizen Science projects:
An Australian initiative; chose a project that works for you! You can transcribe historic documents, identify animals photographed by motion-activated cameras, and help museums to digitise their collections by transcribing specimen tags.
Foldit is an online game where you help researchers by solving ‘puzzles’ based on the structures of proteins. Training is provided – learn how to ‘fold’ proteins for biomedical research.
Frog Watch South Australia
Use a phone app to record frog calls and conduct habitat surveys. Have your frog calls identified, or use the online resources to develop skills in frog identification.
An online project for people who love astronomy or want to learn about it. Help classify galaxies: over 1 million people have participated and helped to classify over 100 million galaxies!
iNaturalist is a website and phone app you can use to record living things that you photograph in your garden, a local park or anywhere. You can upload images of living things and the iNaturalist community will identify them. Website includes a teachers guide. A student version of the iNaturalist app exists for education outcomes.
Transcribe old ships’ records to help understand how the climate is changing.
Questagame is a phone app that allows you to record sightings of wildlife. You can gain points on a leader-board by completing quests to find species.
An online game that anyone can play - no experience necessary. In the game, you look at movies from the brains of mice and try to identify vessels as flowing or stalled. This helps to speed up Alzheimer’s disease research at Cornell University.
The success of Galaxy Zoo has led to the development the ‘Zooniverse’ platform. Zooniverse offers online projects in biology, history, literature, medicine, physics and more (over 100 projects available). You can help scientists identify, classify or transcribe all sorts of things, whatever takes your interest!
A selection of recommended Astronomy Citizen Science programs
These websites are an excerpt from the 'Open Universe: Bringing astronomical research and exploration into the classroom' article by Professor Alan Duffy, Dr Saeed Salimpour and Dr Michael Fitzgerald in the 2020 SASTA Journal Number 1. The full article can be viewed here.
Inspect and classify galaxies
Use your computer’s idle time in the search for gravity waves.
Join the search for exoplanets
Classify the shapes of interacting galaxies.
Globe at Night
Measure the amount of light pollution at night and share your observations with people across the planet.
Help forecast meteor show activity.
NASA Citizen Science projects
Such a range on offer – from air quality here on Earth to planet hunting in other solar systems.
Planet Four Terrains
Help scientists map the surface of Mars.
Join the search for exoplanets
Become a radio-astronomer by creating your own radiotelescope.
Collaborate with astronomers in India.
Classify stars according to their spectrum.
Zooniverse Astronomy Projects
Zooniverse is a go to site for links to people-powered research projects around the world that cover a range of disciplines, including the sciences.