Top 12 Citizen Science Projects of 2012

2012 was a huge year for citizen science. From microbes to Zombie Flies, from sea to space, there was no shortage of opportunities for everyday people to contribute to real scientific discovery.

Each year at SciStarter, we analyze our glorious website metrics to identify the most popular projects of the year. Below, I’ve listed the year’s 12 most visited projects in our Project Finder, a growing collection of more than 500 new and existing citizen science opportunities.

Happy New Year, and keep experimenting!

Mastodon Matrix Project

The Mastodon Matrix Project is a chance to make science history! Volunteers analyze actual samples of matrix (the dirt) from a 14,000 year old mastodon excavated in New York. Shells, bones, hair and other discoveries are then sent back to the Paleontological Research Institution to be further analyzed by paleontologists.

EteRNA: Solve Puzzles for Science

EteRNA is a collaborative online game in which volunteers help biologists solve a challenging mystery: what are the rules governing RNA folding? Players who assemble the best RNA designs online will see their creations synthesized in a biochemistry lab.

Project Squirrel

Project Squirrel calls on volunteers to count the number of squirrels in their neighborhoods and report their findings. The goal is to understand urban squirrel biology, including everything from squirrels to migratory birds, nocturnal mammals, and secretive reptiles and amphibians.

The Royal Society’s Laughter Project

A picture of a laughing man will hopefully encourage you to join the Royal Society Laughter ProjectThe Royal Society put together a playlist of different laughs and asked people to determine if those laughs were real and fake. The results, which will be posted on the project blog soon, will help researchers at the University College of London learn how people react to different sounds. THIS science will make you LOL!

Bat Detective

Bat Detective enlists citizen scientists to screen sound recordings of bats to classify their distinct calls. These classifications will be used to create a new algorithm to help researchers easily extract information from sound recordings and more closely monitor threatened bat populations.

Digital Fishers

Do you love the ocean but not the sunburns, parking, or other unpleasant aspects that come with the territory? Here’s a project that puts you in touch with the ocean and saves you the extra costs in suntan lotion. Anyone can assist by watching 15-second videos from the comfort of a home computer and clicking on simple responses.

Solar Hydrogen Activity Research Kit

SHArK provides students with the tools to discover a storable form of solar energy. It’s an inexpensive, fun and engaging way to explore chemistry and contribute potential solutions to the world’s energy problem. The SHArK was hot in 2012!

EyeWire: Map the Retinal Connectome

Scientists need help mapping the neural connections of the retina, and all they’re asking is for participants to play a fun game of coloring brain images. EyeWire is a great way to learn about the brain and help scientist understand how the nervous system works.

CoCoRaHS: Rain, Hail, Snow Network

CoCoRaHS volunteers take and submit measurements of rain, hail, and snow precipitation. The data are available for use by the National Weather Service, meteorologists, hydrologists, emergency managers, city utilities, engineers, ranchers and farmers, teachers, students, and more.

The Great Sunflower Project

The Great Sunflower Project uses data collected by citizen scientists to create an online map of bee populations. Participants grow sunflowers, observe how many bees visit those flowers, and then submit their observations. Plant, Watch, Enter. It’s that easy!

The Wildlife of Our Homes

The Your Wild Life team asks volunteers to go boldly where few have gone before — into the life-filled ecosystem of their house! With an easy-to-use sampling kit, anyone can help researchers test a handful of hypotheses related to microbial wild life in and around their home.

Big Butterfly Count

The Big Butterfly Count is a nationwide survey in which volunteers count butterflies for 15 minutes. The data will assist help in identifying trends in species and understand the effect of climate change on wildlife. 25,500 people took part in the 2012 count.

Images: DOD, Paleontological Research Institution, Berkeley Lab, stock, USGS, NPS, NOAA, NASA, Eyewire, stock, FWS, Your Wild Life, FWS

This blog post was originally published on CitizenSci, a PLOS blog about the projects, people, and perspectives fueling new frontiers for citizen science.

Categories: Citizen Science

Tags: , , , ,