How You Can Go Back to School With Citizen Science

It’s the beginning of another school year, and citizen science is a great way to get back into the swing of learning for curious people of all ages. There are hundreds of projects with classroom materials to choose from on SciStarter, and a free Foundations of Citizen Science training is available to introduce citizen science to your learners.

Creating a new science learning space on school grounds can seem intimidating, costly and overwhelming. But with minimal materials, you can turn any campus into a citizen science learning lab!

Below are a handful of citizen science projects that will engage students and lifelong learners alike, catalyze learning and help keep science real this school year!

Special thanks to Jill Nugent for helping select projects and craft descriptions for this newsletter. Find her articles for the National Science Teaching Association’s publications on the SciStarter Education page.


The SciStarter Team

Credit: USFWS Digital Library

Each fall, monarch butterflies in North America begin their long journey south from Canada, through the United States and into Mexico where they spend the winter. With Journey North, monitor monarchs and other species. You can empower students students to study the migration up close and in the schoolyard.

Location: North America

Get Started!

Credit: Chang Duong

The citizen science project mPING (Meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground) wants you to observe and report your local weather conditions with their free mobile app. With mPING, participants go outside, report the weather conditions and contribute to 21st-century crowdsourced weather reports.

Location: Global

Get Started!

Both Seek (for younger learners) and iNaturalist are phenomenal tools to study the nature around us. It’s a great opportunity to explore and document campus biodiversity using simple apps. These projects are the perfect gateway to other projects, including monitoring biodiversity over time and even creating habitat to study additional species!

Location: Global

Learn about Seek here!

Get Started!

EnviroBucket Soil Sampling Test Kit

A kit from Citizen Science Community Resources gives citizen scientists the tools to test soil quality near them. The project engages participants in sampling soil, helps with testing for possible contaminants and ultimately fosters environmental health and awareness for all communities.

Location: Global

Get Started!

Credit: Ola Duminuco
Squirrels can be found almost everywhere, and Project Squirrel is a perfect outdoor citizen science project for all ages. Volunteers count squirrels and report their data and observations. SciStarter also partnered with TIME for Kids to create additional resources to support science learning!
Location: Global

Get Started!

Credit: Eammon Littler

Running from November through April, Project FeederWatch provides an opportunity to study the feathered friends that visit your campus nearly all school year long. Students can count the birds that visit the food, water and/or plants that you provide, as well as monitor raptors that hunt the birds visiting your feeders.

Location: United States & Canada

Get Started!

Credit: Lisa Patchem

Air Quality Treks invites students to make hypotheses about air quality and test them with real scientific tools. With a Personal Air Monitor, they can go for a walk around their neighborhood and gather data to study and submit.

Location: United States

Get Started!

Credit: Eammon Littler

Recruitment has begun for October’s Great Southern Bioblitz! Learn how you can help document biodiversity in the Southern Hemisphere. Using iNaturalist, the Great Southern Bioblitz asks volunteers to submit images and observations of where different plants, animals and fungi occur, while also pin-pointing invasive species.

In 2020, there were over 150 local government areas involved — from Australia, South America and Africa. Not in the Southern Hemisphere? You can help identify species observations on iNaturalist.

Sign up today to participate from October 21 to October 25.

Get Started!

Events and Opportunities

NASA GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Photo Challenge

NASA scientists need your photos of mosquito larvae and land cover to help prevent mosquito-borne diseases. Help them by submitting photos during this special challenge, which runs until August 25.

Help NASA Today!

Help Create an Inventory of Safe Drinking Water

Live in the United States? Join a live, online event August 18 for an introduction to citizen science, to learn about water infrastructure in your community and to participate in the Crowd the Tap project live in partnership with SciStarter and the Kenosha Public Library.

Contribute to safe drinking water!

Introduction to Citizen Science in Libraries Webinar

RSVP for a general introduction to citizen science and to explore how libraries can become partners in citizen science engagement. Learn how to access SciStarter’s library resources, build kits and connect existing programs and communities to projects featured on SciStarter.

Make your library into a citizen science hub!

New Blog Posts

Keep Exploring

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: Newsletter

About the Author

Jill Nugent

Jill Nugent

Jill Nugent works in higher education where she teaches and serves as an administrator in online STEM programs. Her undergraduate degree is from Texas A&M University and her master’s degree is in biological sciences where she studied animal behavior and conservation biology. She holds teacher certification in science and life science/biology and is a Ph.D. candidate at Texas Tech University where she is investigating locally engaged, globally connected citizen science. Jill authors a monthly citizen science column in the NSTA Journal, Science Scope and was a contributing author on the NSTA Press book, “Citizen Science: 15 Lessons That Bring Biology to Life”. Outside of teaching, writing, and engaging in citizen science projects, Jill enjoys volunteering with ManeGait, a therapeutic riding equestrian center in North Texas. You can connect with Jill on Twitter @ntxscied.