Become a Scientist Today with Citizen Science Projects

By OSC on April 13, 2018 in What's New

Citizen Science is scientific research conducted in whole, by nonprofessional scientists. Usually community-driven, Citizen Science is the involvement of the public in scientific research, a collaboration of scientific work or research taken by every day people and the larger scientific community. Citizen Science is a great way for everyday people to get involved in science research that will impact the scientific community as a whole. The whole idea of Citizen Science is that there is no scientific training required! Citizen Science is important and vital, researches need citizen data because they cannot be everywhere to collect it themselves.

April 21
Orlando Science Center invites you to learn about the importance of Citizen Science!

Join us Saturday, April 21 for Citizen Science Day at OSC! Citizen science partners will be here to talk to guests about how they can get involved. Plus, participate in special workshops in Dr. Dare’s Lab and other hands-on activities to highlight specific citizen science projects. Scroll down to see a list of our participating organizations!

Citizen Science Day activities are included with general admission which is free for Orlando Science Center Memers, $20.95 for adults, $18.95 for seniors and students, $14.95 for children ages 3–11.


Get Involved at Home

There are many active citizen science projects around the world, and there are even some that focus on Florida! Here are our top 10 Florida Citizen Science projects that you can join in, too.

Frog Listening Network

1. Ecology & Environment – Frog Listening Network: Monitor amphibians to track environmental health by identifying amphibians both by sound and by sight.

2. Agriculture – Backyard Bark Beetles: Find out what bark and ambrosia beetles are in your own backyard by sending them to a lab for ID. See what you caught on a live map!

3. Animals – Watch the Wild: Observe and report on the “wild” in your community, from trees and plants, to lakes and streams, to weather and wildlife activity. Your observations will be entered into a database and shared with interested scientists.

4. Astronomy & Space – World MOON Project: Observe the moon and identify patterns to gain a deeper understanding about the moon’s appearance. Short essays based on student observations are collected by the World MOON Project.

5. Climate & Weather – UF Native Buzz: Created by the University of Florida Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab. This project’s goal is to learn more about the nesting preferences, diversity and distribution of our native solitary bees and wasps in our own backyards.

Mushroom Observer

6. Food – Mushroom Observer: Record observations about mushrooms, help people identify unfamiliar mushrooms, and expand the community around the scientific exploration of mushrooms. By some estimates, less than 5% of the world’s species of fungi are currently known to science!

7. Ocean, Water, Marine & Terrestrial – Florida Microplastic Awareness Project: Learn how much microplastic is in Florida’s aquatic environments by collecting coastal water samples and filtering them to look for the presence of microplastics (using a microscope).

8. Biology – Horseshoe Crabs as Homes: Discover what species live symbiotically on horseshoe crabs. Share your clear photos of horseshoe crabs and their critters when you see them on the beach, and tweet them to @horseshoe_homes.

9. Chemistry – Measuring the Vitamin C in Food: Investigate which fruit or vegetable contains the most vitamin C! Take part and share your data with thousands of students from around the world. Test your fruit and vegetables for vitamin C using simple kitchen equipment and household items.

10. Computers & Technology – Leafsnap: Help scientists study tree species distribution by identifying and locating tree species using the Leafsnap mobile app. Leafsnap turns app-users into citizen scientists, automatically sharing images, species identifications, and geo-coded stamps of species locations with a community of scientists who will use the stream of data to map and monitor the ebb and flow of flora.

Thank you to our Citizen Science Day Partners!

Zooniverse is a citizen science database in which you can find citizen science projects to participate in! They are neatly sorted by topic so you can browse based on what you’re interested in. You can also see what’s popular, or use keywords to see if anything strikes your fancy. Not only that, but you can launch your own citizen science project with their “Build a Project” tool!

SciStarter is an online citizen science community database. They have a calendar available with events to keep you up to date with what’s happening in the citizen science community, as well as discussions on their blog. They also have a project database that allows you to narrow down your search to whether or not it’s local, if it can be done indoors, if it can be done at home, etc. This makes finding a citizen science project to participate in highly accessible!

Canine Companions for Independence-
A non-profit organization that provides specially trained canine companions to individuals with disabilities for no cost to the recipient.

Imagine our Florida-
This is a non-profit organization with an emphasis on education about Florida’s native ecosystem. They have lesson plans designed for all age ranges to teach in a hands on and engaging environment.

Backyard Beetles-
This is a citizen science project in which citizen scientists are asked to create a beetle trap with which to capture beetles. Once captured, they send them in to the Backyard Bark Beetles to be studied for a better understanding of how we can protect our forests. The beetles they collect are Bark and Ambrosia beetles, which are very important for the environment.

Save the Manatee Club-
This is a conservation club to raise awareness about one of Florida’s native endangered species: the manatee. Along with education, they do raise funds that go toward manatee conservation.

Fleet Farming-
This is a non-profit organization actively working toward normalizing community gardens and locally grown produce. Urban areas are more and more becoming food deserts, and Fleet Farming is combating the challenge of food security by converting your front yard into an edible garden.

Audubon Eaglewatch-
This citizen science program utilizes citizen scientists to monitor and collect data on nesting pairs of eagles around Florida. Data includes nesting sites, productivity, and potential environmental threats to these birds.

This citizen science project allows us to gather detailed data about the thousands of lakes and smaller bodies of water we are home to here in Florida. Citizen scientists take a short course on proper sample collection, and then are able to start collecting water samples from their local lakes to better understand their unique ecosystems.

Globe Observer-
This is a citizen science project in which we make observations from the ground about the clouds in the sky. This can help us notice patterns and make predictions about the weather and spikes in certain insect populations, etc.


A citizen science project designed to keep tabs on certain invasive diseases and pests that affect our native trees. This one is in the form of an app you can download on your apple or android smart device. You just tag trees that you find in your community and scientists will use that data for different projects.

Nature’s Notebook-
Submit observations about plants in your area to this massive citizen science online data base. This well-established project has been an ongoing work for ten years now, and scientists use it to make decisions and predictions about the environment. You can download the app to your android or apple device.

This citizen science project is another online database where you can report amphibian and reptile sightings via an app downloaded to your apple or android device.

The Big Bug Hunt-
This citizen science project is another online database for you to report pest sightings in your area. We can use this data to track the movement and spread of pests that might be a threat to the native ecosystem. You can download the app to your apple or android device.

Darwin’s Dogs- Https://
A genetics project to help us learn how genes affect dogs’ behavior and personality traits. You can get involved by sending in a saliva sample and behavioral data.

Dog Aging Project- Http://
A citizen science project studying the longevity of dogs, and how we can help to extend our canine companions’ lifespan. This is a longitudinal study focused on the health and wellbeing of middle aged dogs and preventative care.

Epidogs Project- Https://
This citizen science project aims to better understand why some dogs are able to detect when their owners are about to have a seizure. With this information, people will be able to more efficiently train dogs to predict and warn their owners of oncoming seizures.

Itchy Dog Project-
A citizen science project designed to study the quality of life of dogs with skin conditions compared to those without. Other than being itchy, what differences are there between dogs with itchy skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, and those without such conditions?

Bristol Spinning Dog Project-
A study of dogs who compulsively chase their tails or spin in circles. They hope to understand why these behaviors develop and whether or not it has long lasting effects on the dog’s quality of life.

Dog Head Anatomy Project-
This citizen science project is collecting data to understand the effect of skull shape on feeding and dental health on different dogs.

Flu Near You-
In this citizen science project, people self report what symptoms they are feeling, and those symptoms are paced on a visual map. From this crowd sourced data, we get a map that can be interacted with on their website to see growing—or dwindling—numbers of flu sufferers in your area!

Cat Tracker- Personality Study-
Take a personality test for your cat and learn more about them, while providing valuable information about cat-owner relationships to real scientists!

Manatee Chat-
Listen to sound files and help scientists divide them into different subsets- Manatee calls, chewing noises, both, or no sound. This will help scientists learn more about the vocalizations that manatees make, and what purpose they serve!

Zooniverse is doing a study about young people taking part in their citizen science projects!
If you are between the ages of 5-19, you and a parent can go online and take a survey about your experience using Zooniverse’s citizen science interface.


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