Can we keep up with the growth of citizen science?

Sharman Apt RussellIn the current issue of On Earth magazine, writer Sharman Apt Russell explores the exponential growth of citizen science and asks whether we can keep up with this growth.

Explosion! Renaissance! Revolution! Tsunami! This is the sort of (admittedly overblown) language you might have overheard at the first-ever large-scale conference on citizen science, to describe the recent growth of the phenomenon whereby people from outside the academy contribute valuable observations and data to those working within it.

Thanks to programs on websites like Scistarter and Citizen Science Central, anyone who wants to can affect the scientific record by studying squirrels, counting herring, collecting rainfall, planting chestnuts, designing proteins, hunting for archeological sites, measuring snow, listening for noise pollution, finding ladybugs, and documenting road kill. You can join a small, local citizen-science project going on in your nearest city park, forest, stream, or public school. Or you can be a part of a much larger program: some 500,000 people so far have participated in GalaxyZoo, in which participants help map the universe by analyzing the shapes of galaxies.

Read the full story by Sharman Apt Russell here: “Turtles All the Way Up” (On Earth magazine)

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About the Author

Darlene Cavalier

Darlene Cavalier

Darlene Cavalier is a Professor at Arizona State University's Center for Engagement and Training, part of the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. Cavalier is the founder of SciStarter. She is also the founder of Science Cheerleader, an organization of more than 300 current and former professional cheerleaders pursuing STEM careers, and a cofounder of ECAST: Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology, a network of universities, science centers, and think tanks that produces public deliberations to enhance science policymaking. She is a founding board member of the Citizen Science Association, a senior advisor at Discover Magazine, a member of the EPA's National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, and was appointed to the National Academy of Sciences "Designing Citizen Science to Support Science Learning" committee. She is the author of The Science of Cheerleading and co-editor of The Rightful Place of Science: Citizen Science, published by Arizona State University. Darlene holds degrees from Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania and was a high school, college and NBA cheerleader. Darlene lives in Philadelphia with her husband and four children.