A Gift Guide for Citizen Science

These citizen science tools will let the science lovers in your life carry out experiments and join research projects at home, from measuring rainfall to watching the birds that visit your yard.

Citizen Science Salon iconCitizen Science Salon
By Bob Hirshon
Nov 28, 2020 11:00 PMNov 29, 2020 12:37 AM
canairio air pollution monitor
CanAirIO is a low-cost air pollution monitor designed to empower citizen scientists to track air quality in their community. (Credit: CanAirIO)


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Citizen Science Salon is a partnership between Discover magazine and SciStarter.org.

This holiday season, treat yourself or someone else you love to these awesome science instruments and give the gift of citizen science. Do you, or your friends and family, like to garden, birdwatch, storm chase or enjoy other science hobbies? If so, then our annual SciStarter Gift Guide is just what you need to find the ideal gift and take things to the next level of discovery.

The Field Guide to Citizen Science

The Field Guide to Citizen Science is a popular, accessible book that will tell readers everything they always wanted to know about citizen science but were afraid to ask. It’s the gift that helps people give back, contributing their brains to making a difference through science! It’s an easy, fun read with step-by-step instructions for dozens of projects.

(Credit: CoCoRaHS)

CoCoRaHS Rain Gauge

There’s nothing more inspiring for that weather bug on your shopping list than an official CoCoRaHS precipitation gauge. Beautiful, durable and accurate, it will make sharing backyard precipitation data with the National Weather Service a pleasure.

CanAirIO is a low-cost air pollution monitor designed to empower citizen scientists to track air quality in their community. (Credit: CanAirIO)

CanAirIO DIY Air Pollution Monitor

Give someone an air pollution sensor, and they’ll measure air pollution. But teach them how to build their own official CanAirIO air pollution sensor, and they’ll measure air pollution and also become amateur engineers! CanAirIO’s SciStarter page will show you, and them, how to get started on this science project.

Downy woodpecker at a bird feeder. (Credit: Errol Taskin/Project FeederWatch)

Squirrel-Resistant Birdfeeder for Project Feederwatch

Project Feederwatch is a winter-long, citizen science survey of birds that visit feeders. Volunteers periodically count the number of birds they see at their feeders and then report the information back. However, while we love squirrels, this project is a strictly ornithological annual event, and the dress code is “feathers required.” Consider gifting a spring-loaded feeder that closes up when heavy squirrels try to crash the party. And check out Cornell’s Project Feederwatch manual to learn about the types of bird feeders and foods to select the feeder style best-suited to your avian guests.

(Credit: Public Labs)

Public Lab DIY Microscope and Spectrometer Kits

Just like microscope pioneer Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, a lucky person on your gift list could soon be making their own microscope and observing their own frolicking animalcules with a DIY microscope kit. Or maybe they’d prefer chasing rainbows with a DIY spectroscopy kit? Either way, you’ll make the science explorers in your life happy with these DIY science kits.

You can find and join thousands of citizen science projects at SciStarter.org.

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