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Citizen Science

Citizen science is a method of data collection and research that connects scientists and “citizen scientists” to conduct research that would be difficult to do without broader public participation. Anyone can be a citizen scientist and there are many citizen science opportunities related to environmental topics that will foster learning and further scientific research.

General Resources

The following sites are good places to find citizen science opportunities.



SciStarter website link

SciStarter is an online database of citizen science projects that lets you customize your search to find a citizen science project that fits your interests.


National Geographic’s Citizen Science website link.

National Geographic’s Citizen Science website shares opportunity for students to participate in field studies to help remove the invasive garlic mustard plant, count birds, listen for frog calls, monitor monarch butterfly populations, and more!


Zooniverse website link

Zooniverse is a collaboration between several institutions in the US and UK that focuses on the collection of people-powered research that includes projects focused on climate and nature.


Recommended Citizen Science Opportunities

These are some citizen science projects that have a large impact or fits well into existing FCPS curriculum. You can work on these projects in school or at home.


Fairfax County Citizen Science Floatables Monitoring Program website link

Ecologists from the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services work with students on the Citizen Science Floatables Monitoring Program. Throughout the school year, students identify and quantify the number and type of floatables in a 100-by-20-foot section of a stream valley near their school. The goal of the program is to encourage students to use what they learned from their data to create an action plan to reduce the amount of litter reaching the stream.

BioBlitz website link.

A BioBlitz is an event in which teams of volunteers work together to find and identify as many species as possible in a given area in a short amount of time. You can find a local BioBlitz to join or learn how to design your own at your school or in your neighborhood.

Journey North website link

Journey North is a project that tracks the annual migration of monarch butterflies as they make their annual migration across North America as they travel to and from Mexico. Report any monarchs you see on the website or through their mobile app. (This project is suitable for all ages and fits especially well with the 2nd grade monarch unit.)

Cornell Lab of Ornithology website link

Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Citizen Science projects are focused on tracking birds and include eBird, Project FeederWatch, NestWatch, and the Great Backyard Bird Count.  Their Habitat Network program asks you to map your school grounds or backyard to contribute to a global habitat map.

Squirrel Mapper website link

Squirrel Mapper is a citizen science project seeking to determine why gray squirrels, which had mostly black coats two centuries ago, are now almost all gray.

iSeeChange website link

iSeeChange is tracking how weather and climate change are affecting your environment.  You can track your weather observations using the apps developed in partnership with NASA.

Project BudBurst website link

Project BudBurst monitors plants through the seasons. You can either choose a plant and report multiple observations as the seasons change or report a single observation of a plant.

NASA GLOBE Observer website link

NASA GLOBE Observer collects observations of clouds and mosquito habitat through a mobile app to further our understanding of changes in climate.

FrogWatch USA website link

FrogWatch USA is the citizen science program for the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.  It has individuals or groups learn about wetlands by reporting on the calls of local frogs and toads.  The data collected is used to aid the conservation of frog and toad species.  Volunteers must complete a training session first.