Make a Difference in the World as a Citizen Scientist

“Scientific work undertaken by members of the general public, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions.” – Oxford English Dictionary

The 2016 TED prize winner, Sarah Parcak, used the award money to fund her citizen science project, Globalxplorer.org. This online platform protects and preserves ancient sites by encouraging people to work with archaeologists to analyze satellite images and identify possible looting. This is all done online. Globalxplorer is just one of thousands of citizen science projects needing volunteers to volunteer a small amount of time, in some cases minutes, to helping them advance their understanding and knowledge of complex problems. Citizen science projects span a range of subjects and aren’t only about science. Some are about language, dictionaries, human behavior, artificial intelligence, psychology, nature, and more. Students achieve reading, writing, and digital research standards and see their learning make a real impact on the world.

I’m so excited about the rich learning experience citizen science offers our students that I’ve dedicated one of the missions in my newest book, Hacking Digital Learning Strategies: 10 Ways to Launch EdTech Missions in Your Classroom, to facilitating students in their role as “citizen scientists” who share their field research with the world. Below, find a slideshow  with more information and resources. You can also watch my recent webinar on YouTube, Citizen Science Projects for Meaningful Learning.

Get your copy of The 30 Goals Challenge, Learning to Go, or Hacking Digital Learning. Ask me about training your teachers, ShellyTerrell@gmail.com!

Tips and Resources

  • Where do I find projects?
    • SciStarter.com – conduct searches for projects related to your subject. For each project find a description, the recommended age groups, the time commitment, and the platform (mobile or web).
    • Zooniverse.org– conduct searches, but not as many projects listed as SciStarter.
  • What’s involved?
    • Some require registration and others don’t. All are free to register.
    • Some projects take a few minutes, while others take longer.
    • Some projects require outdoor data collection (field research) and others are completed online.
    • Students contribute in many ways, including by completing surveys, transcribing, playing online games, collecting measurements, archiving, reading maps, identification, and much more.
    • Students are given tutorials with instructions and examples so they know how to complete the task.
    • Students are also given toolkits with tools to assist them in their research. These toolkits might provide maps, keys, programs, and more.
    • Students complete the task and can signup for updates on the project. Most of these projects take years to complete, but they do show statistics and data to indicate progress.
  • These are some great citizen science projects for reading, writing, and grammar.
    • OVER– Help specify the semantics of the preposition over by answering survey questions.
    • Gameswithwords.org/quizzes– Take 3 (Vocabulary, listening, and which English) quizzes to help contribute to research.
    • Small World of Words– Contribute to this large-scale scientific study that aims to build a mental dictionary or lexicon in the major languages of the world.
    • Lingscape (iOS/Android App)- Lingscape is an app for researching linguistic landscapes all over the world by collecting photos of signs and lettering on an interactive map.
    • Verb Corner-Play a game to help scientists answer- Why are the rules of grammar the way they are? What do words and sentences mean?
    • Hungry Mindlab moo-Q iOS App– Allows you to monitor your mood and brainpower by recording your positive and negative affects, memory ability, and processing speed.
    • Project Describe– Volunteers to help the American Museum of Natural History create descriptions for over 30,000 images on their website.
    • Mark2cure.org and Asknature.org are projects in which students are asked to read small passes and answer questions related to the reading passages.
  • These citizen science projects involve transcribing historic and ancient documents-

Challenge: Get students to contribute their learning to meaningful research as citizen scientists.

If you enjoyed these ideas, get your copy of The 30 Goals for Teachers or my $5.99 ebook, Learning to Go.
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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, instructional designer, adjunct professor, and the author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching and Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones and BYOT. She has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times, the Ministry of Education in Spain, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as an innovator in the movement of teacher-driven professional development and education technology. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year 2014 by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women and awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, the Twitter chat that spurred over 400 teacher chats. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 25 countries and has consulted with organizations worldwide such as UNESCO Bangkok, The European Union aPLaNet Project, Cultura Iglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, and VenTESOL. She shares regularly via TeacherRebootCamp.com, Twitter (@ShellTerrell), and Facebook.com/shellyterrell. Her greatest joy is being the mother of Rosco the pug.

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