Have you ever wanted to contribute to scientific understanding, or participate in a community project that aims to generate scientific data? Then you just may be a Citizen Scientist in the making. Citizen science is “scientific work undertaken by members of the general public, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions.” Unlike the gentleman scientist of days gone by, citizen scientists are part of a larger picture: collaborating with established science by monitoring, collecting, observing and reporting on large projects that would be inconceivable for an individual to accomplish.
Citizen science : how ordinary people are changing the face of discovery, by Caron Cooper, tells the fascinating story of this movement, from the 19th Century to the present, and just may inspire you to get involved yourself.
If you don’t need convincing, head over to the Australian Museum Centre for Citizen Science,which oversees a number of programs using public participation to increase scientific knowledge.
Some of the ways to get involved include:
- Tracking frogs
- Digitising the Museum’s specimens
- Logging sightings of tagged cockatoos
- Sharing photos of fish
- Spotting threatened wildlife
- Monitoring streams and waterways
Another place to start is the Australian Citizen Science Association’s Atlas of Living Australia . This is a ‘collaborative, open infrastructure that pulls together biodiversity data from multiple sources, and makes it accessible and reusable.’ This hub provides access to a number of local projects as well, such as:
- Jenolan Caves Bioblitz
- Blue Mountains urban – bush interface studies
- Weed identification
So dig out that lab coat and get ready to join your fellow Citizens in an adventure in science.