Your Science Adventure(s) at Your Library

Themes, projects, and resources to support citizen science in your Summer Reading Program.

Our partners at the Collaborative Summer Library Program have determined Adventure Begins at Your Library™ as this year’s summer reading theme! Check out how citizen science and STEM programming can support your summer reading programming for children, teens, and adults. 

Engaging in science is always an adventure! To make it easy for you, we’ve imagined four science adventures that pair citizen science projects with STEM activities from our partners and friends at STAR Net. STAR Net has developed a STEM Activity Clearinghouse of thousands of hands-on, easily searchable STEM activities. 

Underwater Adventures

From lakes to rivers to oceans, there is so much water-centered citizen science that your library users can participate in both outside and online. 

MYCOAST (all ages, outside, near waterways) Document tides, storm damage, beach cleanups

MARINE DEBRIS TRACKER (all ages, outside, global) – Contribute research data to help tackle the plastic pollution crisis

DOLPHIN CHAT (all ages, online, global) – Identify and classify dolphin vocalizations

CROWD WATER (middle school+, outside, global)– Collect hydrological data using a smartphone app

Cosmic Quest

What’s more of an adventure than space science? Our friends at NASA love working with citizen scientists. The projects below are out of this world, literally, and would be great to feature alongside other space-focused STEM programs. 

DISK DETECTIVE (Middle School+, Online, global)– Search for dusty debris around stars where distant worlds dwell

GLOBE AT NIGHT (all ages, outside, global– Measure light pollution 

SUNGRAZER (challenging, online, competitive, global) Find comets that “graze” past our sun

CLOUDSPOTTING ON MARS (10+, online, global– Identify clouds in the atmosphere of Mars

Backyard Explorers

The beauty of citizen science is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. There are so many ways to participate in scientific research in your local community, even right from your kitchen window! The projects below are all easy to do, family-friendly, and fun. 

ISEECHANGE (all ages, outside, global) – Document changes in your environment

INATURALIST (all ages, outside, global– Identify wildlife right outside your front door 

GREAT SUNFLOWER PROJECT (all ages, outside, global) – Monitor pollinator activity 

GLOBE OBSERVER: Clouds (all ages, outside, global) – Download the app and help NASA scientists learn about planet Earth.

PROJECT FEEDERWATCH (all ages, outside, North America) – Spend two days observing birds in your “backyard” from the start of Winter to the end of April. Do it year round with eBird.

Wildlife Detectives

While your library users may not be able to go on a safari this summer, they can join in on the adventure at your library! From reviewing trap camera footage to observing animals in their local communities, citizen science enables anyone to study animals. 

INSTANT WILD (all ages, online, global– Connect people with the natural world & create useful conservation data

ZOMBEE WATCH (all ages, outside, North America) – Record and report where the Zombie Fly is infecting and killing bees

PROJECT SQUIRREL (all ages, outside, continental USA– Help scientists better understand tree squirrel ecology

GLOBE OBSERVER: MOSQUITO MAPPER (all ages, outside, Global– Document mosquito habitats and identify different types of mosquitoes

Getting Started

To get started introducing and supporting your library users to participate in these projects, start with promoting the Foundations of Citizen Science online tutorial. This free, self-guided course is designed to introduce anyone to the concepts and skills needed to engage in scientific research. You can also host your own Introduction to Citizen Science event using our Introduction to Citizen Science Facilitator Slides and Guide. 

You may also want to consider putting up a book display or poster to increase awareness and curiosity in your community! We have turnkey posters, flyers, and bookmarks that you can print and use. Check them out here.

Developing a Program

One of the best ways to get your library users to contribute to real data collection is by hosting an event that features the activities described above. We’ve developed simple event recipe cards to help you plan your event. You can also check out the citizen science program planning tool for guidance on how to develop an event from scratch. 

Many of the projects featured above having corresponding kits that your library users can check out and use to complete the projects. Check out for guides on how to build these kits from scratch.

Sustaining Engagement

Make sure to sign up for the Citizen and Community Science Library Network to stay up to date on the latest SciStarter resources for libraries. Encourage your library users to create their own SciStarter Accounts to track their progress and find more citizen science projects that pique their interest!


Webinar Recording (Coming Soon)

Webinar Slides (Coming Soon)


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