Top 20 Citizen Science Projects of 2020

This post was originally published as a SciStarter newsletter. Sign up to receive bi-weekly citizen science in your inbox!

Image Credit: Flash Alexander from Pixabay

Thank you, SciStarter citizen scientists! Thanks to nearly 100,000 registered SciStarter users and many other visitors in 2020 alone, we collectively helped scientists accelerate research about COVID-19, monitor light pollution and climate change, catalogue biodiversity all around the globe and understand our world in so many other ways.

In 2020, registered SciStarter users contributed data more than 3,300,000 times to SciStarter affiliate projects. Wow!

Review lists of the most popular projects, below. Beneath those lists, we spotlight five projects that made our annual top 20 stats for the first time this year.

Thank you, and best wishes for a happy and fulfilling 2021.

The SciStarter Team


New to the Top 20!

The below five projects made our top 20 lists for the first time.

Help researchers develop new mRNA vaccines that can be deployed all over the world. No PhD? No problem! Playing this fun, online game helps you build novel RNA configurations, learn about biochemistry and solve puzzles that will help speed up vaccine development.

Location: Online

Image Credit: Eterna

Get Started!

Search for wild animals in Tanzania, South Africa and Mozambique from the comfort of your own home with Snapshot Safari. There are millions of photos lined up and ready for you to analyze! Your work will help scientists conserve some of the most beloved species and ecosystems on our planet.

Location: Online

Image Credit: Snapshot Mountain Zebra

Get Started!

Now that the days are getting longer (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) it’s time to plan for Spring! Join the Great Sunflower Project and familiarize yourself with bees and other pollinators in your area (check out our coloring sheet to practice!). Before you know it, it will be time to find a flowering plant and begin contributing your observations!

Location: Global

Image Credit: Alwyn Ladell via Flickr Creative Commons

Get Started!

With just a penny and a magnet, you can analyze the water pipes in your home and report back to Crowd the Tap! Your home will become part of the national inventory of water pipe materials, contributing to an understanding of drinking water safety.

Location: United States

Get Started!

This year, millions of contributors to COVID Near You helped scientists track outbreaks of COVID-19. Now, COVID Near You has become Outbreaks Near Me, tracking both COVID-19 and influenza. Sign up to add your data to the project and let them know how you’re feeling!

Location: North America

Get Started!

April 2021 is Global Citizen Science Month, presented by SciStarter, the National Library of Medicine, Arizona State University, the Citizen Science Association and many other partners.

Project Leaders: Find free resources and support to help plan and promote your project in April! Read our new welcome letter to get started.

People everywhere: Check out the event calendar and learn more!

Get Started!

Image Credit: Human Computation Institute

As part of continued programming with the Network of the National Library of Medicine and the All of Us Research Program, SciStarter is hosting an event series in January, February and March to help you get started in one of three citizen science projects that advance real world research. Then, share your experiences with the scientists you helped and ask them anything!

Learn about the different events in the series and RSVP.

Image Credit: Human Computation Institute

Get Started!

The Library & Community Guide to Citizen Science is presented by SciStarter and Arizona State University, with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Network of the National Library of Medicine. Libraries are quickly becoming hubs for citizen science. Your library may already be involved in citizen science programming. If so, bravo! For countless others, citizen science is still a bit of a mystery.

We created this guide to help you navigate the rapidly changing landscape, access resources, learn about projects and programs and explore a myriad of opportunities to support your plans to bring citizen science to your library or community-based organization (CBO).


Get Started!

On January 27 at 3 PM ET, join SciStarter and 4 Seasons, a community in New Jersey, for an introduction to citizen science and three projects you can do from home. Anyone of any age is welcome, though this webinar is an especially great fit for retirees that are new to citizen science.

Image credit: Emily Maletz, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Get Started!

New on the Blogs

How Playing Science Games is Advancing Genetic Research, via the SciStarter Blog

How a Christmas Tradition has Helped Track Billions of Vanishing Birds, via Discover Magazine

Explore the Cosmos at Home, via Science Connected

More From SciStarter

Discover more citizen science on the SciStarter calendar. Did you know your SciStarter dashboard helps you track your contributions to projects? Complete your profile to access free tools. Want even more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With citizen science projects spanning every field of research, task and age group, there’s something for everyone!

Categories: Citizen Science News, Events, Featured Projects, Newsletter, NNLM

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About the Author

Bob Hirshon

Bob Hirshon

Bob Hirshon heads up Springtail Media, specializing in science media and digital entertainment. He is Principal Investigator for the NSF-supported National Park Science Challenge, an augmented reality adventure that takes place in National Parks. Hirshon headed up the Kinetic City family of science projects, including the Peabody Award winning children’s radio drama Kinetic City Super Crew, McGraw-Hill book series and Codie Award winning website and education program. Hirshon can be heard on XM/Sirius Radio’s Kids Place Live as “Bob the Science Slob”, sharing science news and answering children’s questions. At SciStarter, Bob edits the Citizen Science Podcast.