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Planet Earth

These 5 Science Projects are Perfect for Thanksgiving

From birdwatching on Thanksgiving to completing surveys about your family dog's behavior, these citizen science projects are perfect for the holiday.

Citizen Science Salon iconCitizen Science SalonBy Bob HirshonNovember 20, 2020 10:15 PM
thanksgiving turkey
(Credit: Pixabay)


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With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the world around us, more people than ever are getting involved with citizen science. This year, nearly 100,000 SciStarter members have already made more than three million data contributions to SciStarter affiliate projects. That’s something all of us at SciStarter are thankful for. Here, we've assembled five citizen science projects that are perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving Day Western Bird Count

If you live in the Western U.S., why not add the Thanksgiving Day Western Bird Count to your annual holiday festivities? You'll spend one hour identifying the birds that visit a 15-foot circle you'll place in an easy to observe spot. Reports from similar spots all over the west will help researchers tally the relative abundance of our more numerous birds.

Healthy vs. Non-Healthy Foods

Everyone knows that eating the wrong foods will cause health problems. Yet few of us make healthy food choices. Join the Healthy vs. Non-Healthy Foods Project to help researchers figure out why. Your responses to a short Survey Monkey form will help scientists better understand why we eat what we eat.

Happy man with pet dog - Shutterstock
(Credit: 4 PM Production/Shutterstock)

Family Dog Project

Dogs know that the secret to a successful Thanksgiving is fine whines. The Family Dog Project scientists invite you to complete surveys like the emotional content of dog whines and dog separation behavior. Feel free to consult your "Lab" partner!

Train AI to Identify Fish

On Thanksgiving, we pause to thank the pioneers of yore, who survived dangerous seas to emerge, victorious and resolute, on distant shores. Yes, we're speaking of our brave forefishes, who had the backbone and fortitude to blaze a trail on which we and our fellow vertebrates now travel. Show your fish appreciation by viewing underwater images to help train artificial intelligence to identify fish in Kakadu National Park. As the AI program learned to identify different species, it can help conservation scientists monitor them.

Project Feederwatch

If you're thankful for an abundance and diversity of songbirds, join Project Feederwatch and help scientists document the birds in our backyards. As a participant, you'll periodically count the birds at your feeders from November through early April. The results will help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.

You can find more citizen science projects at

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