SciStarter in the Classroom
One of the most important parts of the SciStarter mission is to satisfy the popular urge to tinker, build, and explore by making it simple and fun for people to jump in and get their hands dirty with science. This vision, of course, includes people of all ages! This is a burgeoning initiative by SciStarter to become a valuable, trusted resource for science students, educators (in classrooms and for home school), scouts, and curious minds alike. We're happy that our partnership with the National Science Teachers' Association (NSTA) allows us to connect projects to a robust community of educators.
SciStarter believes that a hands-on, face-to-face experience with science enables us to learn how to think critically. When we choose to learn by doing, we begin to formulate questions, experiment, and seek our own answers. Sometimes, it opens our eyes to how little we actually know about the world. The merits of engaging in citizen science abound, benefiting both participants and researchers.
These projects are a representative sample of citizen science projects with online and offline accessibility for educators. You can find 600+ others in our Project Finder. Here are our suggestions for elementary, middle school, high school, and college curriculae. Dig in!
Help scientists learn more about butterflies and the environment by submitting butterfly count from 15 minutes of observation. Counting butterflies for just fifteen minutes could help scientists better understand the environment. The Big Butterfly Count is a recently started national survey that hopes to engage citizen scientists by creating easy and engaging survey methods. This is an easy, fun, and meaningful way to engage in science. Print out an identification poster, get outside, and start counting!
Help track population changes of five bee species. Take and submit photos of bees near you. This project requires a camera, the ability to send an e-mail with a photo attachment and patience. A GPS unit (or equivalent) would also be helpful.
Help learn more about dragonfly migration in North America. Report movements of 5 main migratory species. Become part of an international network of citizen scientists and help monitor the spring and fall movements of the 5 main migratory species in North America, or report on these species throughout the year at a pond or wetland of your choice.
Help scientists learn how urbanization affects spiders. Spot, record, and share sightings of spiders in Los Angeles. The project asks people to collect spiders in their homes and gardens, fill out a sample data sheet, and send or bring the spiders and forms to the National History Museum.
Help researchers learn about native and introduced species of ants by collecting samples and mailing them in! Teachers, students, parents, kids, junior-scientists, senior citizens and enthusiasts of all stripes are involved in collecting ants in schoolyards and backyards using a standardized protocol so that project coordinators can make detailed maps of the wildlife that lives just outside their doorsteps.
Accelerate cancer research to help find cures by classifying images of cancer cells. After a 10-minute tutorial, you can view images of cancer cells in an image carousel. Each image you will see is a tiny tumour sample from a huge dataset. Help scientists accelerate the analysis of this data by identifying the coloured sections of the image using our prompts, and bring forward the cures for cancers.
The Encyclopedia of Life is an online, collaborative project where you can learn about any species on Earth, as well as contribute information and submit photos. This global initiative seeks to create an "infinitely expandable" resource for all of our planet’s 1.9 million known species. Use as a resource in the classroom or for homework assignments.
If you flip a quarter many times, it should land heads up just about as often as it lands tails up, assuming the coin is fair. But with so many different state designs, it's not clear that all U.S. quarters are fair. Help us check by taking a few moments to flip some quarters and report the results. This is an easy project that teaches students about probability, and it can also be done in the classroom or for homework.
Help scientists understand changing climates in your area. Make regular observations of your plants and submit data. Whether you have an afternoon, a few weeks, a season, or a whole year, you can make an important contribution to a better understanding of changing climates. Participating in Project BudBurst, a NEON citizen science program, is easy – everything needed to participate is on the web site. Choose a plant to monitor and share your observations with others online. Not sure where to start? Take a look at the Ten Most Wanted species.
Help scientists study long-term space travel by monitoring the growth of tomato seeds exposed to space conditions. Tomatosphere aims to inspire students by engaging them in real and meaningful science. Students are charged to monitor and record the germination rate for pre-treated tomato seeds in order to give researchers a better understanding of the long-term viability of growing tomatoes in space.
Create world map of the health of water bodies. World Water Monitoring Day is an international program that encourages citizen volunteers to monitor their local water bodies. An easy-to-use test kit enables everyone from children to adults to sample local water bodies for basic water quality parameters: temperature, acidity (pH), clarity (turbidity), and dissolved oxygen.
Help scientists measure, understand effects of light pollution. Use a free mobile app to measure "skyglow" in real time. The Dark Sky Meter allows citizen scientists to contribute to a global map of nighttime light pollution. By utilizing the camera built into iPhones, the Dark Sky Meter actually measures ‘skyglow’ and updates the data in real time.
Help scientists understand how we perceive sounds. Listen to recordings of laughter. Decide if they're real or not. The results will help scientists from University College London to understand the way we perceive and react to different sounds. The experiment should take about 10 minutes.
Help scientists measure, understand effects of light pollution. Use a free app to identify as many visible stars as possible. The more stars you observe, and the more often you run the app, the more precise the data for your location will become. As the seasons change so do the stars in the sky, and since there aren't so many very bright stars it is extremely helpful if urban users do measurements in each season.
Help NASA visualize and communicate space exploration. Take free NASA data and create/share cool visuals. All of the resources are at your fingertips, including high-resolution images, 3-D models, fact sheets, and loads of other data build your very own Infographics. You can browse the numerous of other user creations to get inspired and then upload your creation online! Great as a presentation tool.
Collect, label, send in dead American cockroaches. Citizen scientists can help collect and help analyze American cockroaches using DNA barcoding.
Help scientists create accurate climate models by transcribing 19th-century weather logs from U.S. ships. Could be used in conjuction with a history lesson! These transcriptions will contribute to climate model projections and will improve our knowledge of past environmental conditions. Historians will use your work to track past ship movements and tell the stories of the people on board.
Test your own number sense and assess humans' math knowledge. Panamath is a free-standing software that can be used to assess number sense - your intuitive recognition of numbers and their relationship. Use Panamath to test your own number sense, read more about the research being done or download the software and adapt it for your own research or educational purposes.
Understand how proteins can fold incorrectly to cause disease. Install software on your computer that will perform calculations while your computer is idle. Help Stanford University scientists studying Alzheimer's, Huntington's, Parkinson's, and many cancers by simply running a piece of software on your computer.
This project is a unique blend of linguistics and psychology.Help scientists train computers to understand language by playing a variety of games that ask you about the meaning of words. Rather than try to work out the definition of a word all at once, we have broken the problem into a series of separate tasks. Each task has a fanciful backstory, but at its heart, each task is asking about a specific component of meaning that scientists suspect makes up one of the building blocks of meaning. You can participate for as little as a few minutes or come back to the site over and over to help code the many thousands of words in English.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) is recruiting volunteers to collect and update USGS geographic data. Similar to how other online crowdsourcing cartographic applications allow anyone to collect, edit, and use geographic data through an online map editor, the USGS has developed an online editor customized to our data needs that allows volunteers to contribute data to The National Map.
The National Science Digital Library encourages citizens to help enlarge and strengthen their library of high quality resources and tools that support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. Developers of content in these subject areas, National Science Foundation grantees, educators and learners, and all other members of the community are welcome to recommend digital resources for the library. These resources include activities, lesson plans, Web sites, simulations, or any materials that help educators meet the demands of an increasingly complex technology-based world.
NASA's Radio JOVE project enables students and amateur scientists to observe natural radio emissions from Jupiter, the Sun, and our galaxy. Participants learn about radio astronomy first-hand by building their own radio telescope from an inexpensive kit and/or using remote radio telescopes through the Internet. They also collaborate with each other through interactions and sharing of data on the network.
What possibilities could you think of to create a strong molecular "hook"? Scientists have found a way to link biotin to a variety of compounds using a bond that is resistant to enzyme degradation, while maintaining biotin's ultra-high affinity to streptavidin. Marblar is offering a cash prize of $1,000 for the best idea and a chance to see your idea become an actual product. Read more here.
Don’t see what you’re looking for? Search SciStarter’s database of 600+ citizen science projects for activities that are classroom friendly and offer additional teaching materials! If you have any questions or suggestions, e-mail us at email@example.com.
Here's a NSTA book recommendation for teachers looking for citizen science ideas: CitizenScience: 15 Lessons That Bring Biology to Life, grades 6-12.