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Citizen Scientists Come into Their Own
Welcome to the SB&F Editor's Blog. I am Maria Sosa, Editor-in-Chief of SB&F. Through this blog I hope to interact with the SB&F community and post news and information related to science books, videos, authors, opportunities and other topics of interest to our readers. I hope you find the blog useful and entertaining. Please, join the conversation by posting a comment on our Facebook page. I'd love to hear from you!


In our August issue we published Linda Weiner's review of Loree Griffin Burns' book Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of a Scientific Discover (see below), which tells the story of four actual research projects that invite members of the public to participate in "real" science. While Citizen Science projects have been around for a long time, their resurgence in popularity could have something to do with the growth of crowdsourcing, a distributed problem-solving and production model such as that used by Wikipedia and TripAdvisor.

One of the earliest Citizen Science Projects was the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's PigeonWatch in which participants counted pigeons and recorded the colors of courting pigeons in their neighborhood pigeon flocks. When my children were younger, we participated in PigeonWatch and their colorful newsletters were among the first pieces of mail addressed to her that my daughter would regularly receive, so I remember it fondly. Although this project is now closed, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a number of other bird-related projects that are actively seeking participants.

Children who read Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard will likely be inspired to seek out projects in which they can participate. Check out the websites of the projects profiled in Loree Burns Griffin's book (they are hyperlinked in the review), as well as the links to websites and collections of other Citizen Science projects.


Burns, Loree Griffin. Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard. (Illus.) NY: Henry Holt, 2012. 80pp. $19.99. 2011021673. ISBN 9780805095173. Glossary; Index; C.I.P. EI‑YA, T  ++

Citizen Scientists introduces children (and adults) to four projects in which participation of ordinary people is part of important research. The four projects profiled are Monarch Watch, in which citizens catch and tag monarchs or report information from tagged butterflies, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count in which citizens do winter bird counts, Frog Watch which requires listening for frog and toad calls, and Lost Ladybug in which citizens help chronicle ladybug abundance and diversity. Each chapter gives a description of the project, how it started, why it is important, and reports the experience of young people who are participating in these efforts. I liked the emphasis on the learning of particular knowledge and skills for each project such as learning to recognize the different frog and toad calls and the need to take good notes. I also liked the emphasis on the fun of working outdoors, whether that means a vacant lot, a swamp, or an agricultural field. The photographs show children and adults engaged in citizen science work as well as showing some of the organisms they study. The information presented is accurate, the projects all sound interesting and enticing, and the reader gets to see the benefit to individual citizen scientists and to the greater project goals. There are good lists of resources at the end. I recommend this book for first grade through high school. It is a good resource for teachers and gives enough information to get adults started on these projects as well.‑‑Linda Wiener, St. John's College, Santa Fe, NM

Web Resources

List of Citizen Science projects from Scientific American
This resource from Science American collects and share information about a variety of project.

This site provides a database of searchable projects and is updated frequently.

For Citizen Scientists - NASA 
Here you will find a list of space related citizen science projects and ideas

Citizen Science Alliance
This site is devoted to internet-based citizen science projects on a variety of subjects.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Citizen Science Projects
This page lists and describes Cornell's active projects.

Posted 12 Sep 2012 2:24 PM by Maria Sosa