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These Citizen Science Projects are Perfect for a New School Year

As kids go back to school, either virtually or in-person, citizen science offers a new way to learn about their world.

Citizen Science Salon iconCitizen Science Salon
By Jill Nugent
Aug 20, 2021 6:00 PMApr 12, 2022 3:41 PM
back to school with citizen science


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

It’s the beginning of another school year, and citizen science is a great way to get back into the swing of learning for curious people of all ages. There are hundreds of projects using classroom materials to choose from on SciStarter, and a free Foundations of Citizen Science training is available to introduce citizen science to your learners.

Creating a new science learning space on school grounds can seem intimidating, costly and overwhelming. But with minimal materials, you can turn any campus into a citizen science learning lab!

Below are a handful of citizen science projects that will engage students and lifelong learners alike, catalyze learning and help keep science real this school year!


The SciStarter Team

Journey North

Credit: USFWS Digital Library

Each fall, monarch butterflies in North America begin their long journey south from Canada, through the United States and into Mexico where they spend the winter. With citizen science project Journey North, monitor monarchs and other species. You can empower students students to study the migration up close and in the schoolyard.

Meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground

Credit: Chang Duong

The citizen science project mPING (Meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground) wants you to observe and report your local weather conditions with their free mobile app. With mPING, participants go outside, report the weather conditions and contribute to 21st-century crowdsourced weather reports

Seek and iNaturalist

Both Seek (for younger learners) and iNaturalist are phenomenal tools to study the nature around us. It’s a great opportunity to explore and document campus biodiversity using simple apps. These projects are the perfect gateway to other projects, including monitoring biodiversity over time and even creating habitat to study additional species!

Soil Testing USA

EnviroBucket Soil Sampling Test Kit

A kit from Citizen Science Community Resources gives citizen scientists the tools to test soil quality near them. The project engages participants in sampling soil, helps with testing for possible contaminants and ultimately fosters environmental health and awareness for all communities.

Project Squirrel

Credit: Ola Duminuco

Squirrels can be found almost everywhere, and Project Squirrel is a perfect outdoor citizen science project for all ages. Volunteers count squirrels and report their data and observations. Remember, even seeing no squirrels counts as a valuable observation!

Study Birds

Credit: Eammon Littler

Running from November through April, Project FeederWatch provides an opportunity to study the feathered friends that visit your campus nearly all school year long. Students can count the birds that visit the food, water and/or plants that you provide, as well as monitor raptors that hunt the birds visiting your feeders.

Air Quality Treks

Credit: Marc Wieland/Unsplash

Air Quality Treks invites students to make hypotheses about air quality and test them with real scientific tools. With a Personal Air Monitor, they can go for a walk around their neighborhood and gather data to study and submit.

Great Southern Bioblitz

Credit: Eammon Littler

Recruitment has begun for October’s Great Southern Bioblitz! Learn how you can help document biodiversity in Earth's Southern Hemisphere. Using iNaturalist, the Great Southern Bioblitz asks volunteers to submit images and observations of where different plants, animals and fungi occur, while also pin-pointing invasive species.

In 2020, there were over 150 local government areas involved — from Australia, South America and Africa. Not in the Southern Hemisphere? You can help identify species observations from the Bioblitz on iNaturalist.

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