Turn Your Camera into a Research Tool: 5 Tips for Helping the Environmental Research

Citizen Science Salon iconCitizen Science SalonBy SciStarter TeamJun 22, 2023 11:00 PM
Five Ways you can aid environmental research with your camera


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Did you know? Your camera (or smartphone) is a fantastic tool you can use to help scientists better understand the world and answer big questions affecting us and our planet.

Next time you’re taking a walk, visiting a local park, heading out on an outdoor adventure or even just exploring your own basement, you can aid REAL scientific research by photographing plants, animals, fungi and more!

Need help getting started? Watch the recording of our June 20 SciStarter LIVE! event: Photography 101: Here’s how to take great photos with your phone that can be used for science. We walk through tips for taking photos of organisms that can be used for identification, as well as how to upload your pictures to apps like eBird and iNaturalist.

Then, jump in with these five fabulous photography projects!

Cheers, The SciStarter Team

Image credit: University of New South Wales CC-BY-SA


Track how the coast is changing anywhere in the world. Storms, rising sea levels, human activities and more are constantly affecting and threatening our coastlines.

Using a specialized technique known as photogrammetry, CoastSnap turns your photos into valuable data that is used by coastal scientists to understand and forecast how coastlines might change in the coming decades.

Image credit: Broward County teachers

Stream Selfie

Image credit: Broward County teachers

Stream water quality data need to be improved, and anyone and everyone can help fill the gaps in data.

Help out by participating in the Stream Selfie project. The project aims to provide a complete picture of water quality across the United States. Simply snap a pic of your local stream and share it here.

Image credit: Oxana Melis, Unsplash


Join a vast community of people who share their observations of nature, collaborate to identify species and share data with scientists! iNaturalist also hosts a variety of projects and groups — find one that aligns with your interests!

Seek: Earn badges and complete challenges, fun for families.

Pollinator Associations: Document bees and other pollinators.

Eyes Over Puget Sound: Monitor jellyfish and algae around the Pacific Northwest.

Microscopic Microbes: Upload observations of microbes.

Image credit: Marino Linic/Unsplash

Never Home Alone

Explore the great indoors! We see it everyday inside our homes, schools and offices, but the wildlife that lives inside is surprisingly understudied.

This project aims to document the species that live indoors with humans, including but not exclusive to arthropods like insects and spiders. Participate anywhere in the world — you don’t even need to leave home!

Image credit: Save The Waves Coalition

Save The Waves

Beach-goers around the world can help inform, educate and develop solutions to coastal threats with the Save The Waves App. Users document threats they encounter in surf ecosystems such as plastic pollution, impaired water quality, loss of coastal access and sea-level rise. Submitted observations are immediately displayed on the global coastal threat map.

Save The Waves was recently featured on SciStarter LIVE. Watch the recording for tips for taking and uploading your photos!

Join us online Tuesdays at 2pm ET for SciStarter LIVE!

June 27th: NASA scientists want your aurora photos

Did you know the Northern Lights are caused by the Sun? Learn about NASA heliophysics, the science of the Sun, and project Aurorasaurus, where you can submit your aurora observations for NASA to study. Register.

In case you missed it: How to become a SciStarter Ambassador at your local library. We want YOU to become a SciStarter Ambassador at your local library! Learn what this library program is all about and how ambassadors can make a difference bringing citizen science to their local community. Watch the recording.

Citizen Science Podcast

Special: The Future of Health Research with the All of Us Research Program

In this special presentation, join All of Us Wisconsin and SciStarter to discuss how you can help change the future of medicine. The All of Us Research Program is inviting one million people across the U.S. to help build one of the most diverse health databases in history. Researchers will use the data to learn how our biology, lifestyle and environment affect our health, so we can better treat and prevent disease.

Listen now!

(Credit: SciStarter)

Libraries across the country are helping people take an active role in finding solutions to science-based issues by promoting citizen science projects, kits and events!

Are you interested in learning more about citizen science and related resources at your library? Do you want to participate in a citizen science project? Our Library Kits are for you! Find the library with kits nearest you on our Library Locations page.

Are you a library staff member interested in bringing citizen science to your library? Are you looking for resources to turn your library into a community hub for citizen, community and civic science? Check out our Library Resources page to learn more.

The latest blogs:

C*Sci 2023 – Reports From the Field!

Citizen Science Observations Are Showing Up In Dozens of Published Research Papers

Citizen Science Month 2023: Preliminary Outcomes

Teachers Take on Citizen Science to Enhance Problem-Based Learning

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