April is Citizen Science Month! This month amateur and professional scientists come together to celebrate ways we can all contribute to science and our understanding of the world around us. Thankfully there are ways for people of all ages to get involved, from preschoolers to those of us who have been adulting for quite a while now. Even better, there are lots of ways to be a citizen scientist in your own backyard and neighborhood, so families can safely participate while sheltering in place.
But first...what exactly is citizen science? Why do we need citizen scientists? Well, the simple answer is that professional scientists cannot be everywhere all the time. They need additional eyes and ears to help them gather information about wildlife, weather, ecology, and more. Citizen scientists can help by making observations and sharing them with professional scientists. When taken together with lots of other observations from other citizen scientists, professionals can then use that information to get a better understanding of what is happening in the world around us! Pretty cool right?
Below we've shared links to some of our favorite websites and apps that allow YOU to become a citizen scientist and contribute to this Citizen Science Month!
SciStarter.org SciStarter helped to found Citizen Science Month. Here you can find more information about the initiative and find science projects you can contribute to!
iNaturalist: This app allows you to upload pictures of plants, animals, bugs, and other wildlife you see around you--even in your own backyard. If you're not sure what something is, the app can help you identify it, and you can also help to verify other people's observations! So while you're learning more about the natural world, scientists use the data citizen scientists upload to the app to help them track wildlife populations around the globe.
Seek by iNaturalist: This kid-friendly app (also powered by iNaturalist) has lots of fun and safe activities for kids to learn more about the world around them. Kids do not need to register or give any personal information to use the app, but it is a wonderful way to help them get excited about the natural world in their back yard or neighborhood.
World Book Science Power: Available through St. Tammany Parish Library, this resource has lots of information and activities for kids who are interested in science! More than just an encyclopedia of science facts, World Book Science Power also includes experiments and extension activities to inspire budding citizen scientists.