My Year of Citizen Science

{A Year of Easy Citizen Science Projects for Homeschoolers}

From the University of Oklahoma’s Soil Collection Program

Last year I gave myself a big project by declaring it “My Year of Citizen Science.” Every month, I tried doing one citizen science project, and I wrote about each one on the home/school/life magazine blog. It was a lot of fun, I learned a lot about citizen science, and I felt I was doing something good for the world right from my home. I’m continuing to participate in some of them too.

I picked easy projects that I could do from home because as a homeschool mom, our schedule is full, and I don’t get out much by myself. Sometimes my boys would help me with these projects and other times not. I didn’t require them to. This was something I wanted to do for myself because over the last few years I have come to love science, which I always hated when I was in school. I don’t think it was introduced to me properly when I was a child, but that’s another story.

Anyway, any homeschooler or conscientious citizen could easily do any of these projects. I’m going to list them here with links to my blog posts on home/school/life where you can learn more about what they were like to complete. From there, you can find the link to the project’s website. I can’t promise whether the researchers will continue to make these projects available, but most of them should be ongoing projects.

#1: Lab in the Wild: A project you can do right at your computer.
#2: The Great Backyard Bird Count (Takes place every February): Just what it sounds like. Lots of fun, if you love birds.
#3: Budburst: Find a plant or tree to observe year-round. Lots of good activities on their website for teaching kids about plants.
#4 & #5: Project Noah and iNaturalist: A way to record your nature observations and get help identifying them. Your observations may help researchers too.
#6: Citizen Science Soil Collection Program: Perfect for kids who like playing in the dirt.
#7: Got Milkweed? (The Not Quite Citizen Science Project): An organization who wants to help you plant milkweed, which will help the monarch butterflies.
#8: Bugs In Our Backyard: Learn about true bugs and try to find them.
#9: Project Squirrel: Easiest project in the world, especially if you have squirrels in your yard.
#10: mPING crowdsourcing weather reports: An app that uses crowdsourcing to improve weather radars.
#11: Project Implicit: Another project you can do at your computer. Researchers will test you for hidden biases that you didn’t even know you had.
#12: Flu Near You: Every week you will receive an e-mail asking if anyone in your household has flu-like symptoms. Helps the CDC and other organizations track illnesses.

There are many other citizen science projects that you can find by searching on the Internet and checking out the Project Finder on SciStarter.com. If you have participated in one that isn’t listed here, please tell me about it in the comments. Also, if you try any of these, please let me know!  I’d love to hear about your experience.

5 thoughts on “My Year of Citizen Science

  1. That is sad that you didn’t involve your children more in these projects, especially since you feel that you didn’t like science growing up because you weren’t given a good introduction to science.

    While it’s great to give your children choice in their education, children can also find joy in activities picked for them by their parents.

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    1. Catherine, I think it is sad that for your very first comment on my blog, you felt you had to leave a criticism. Especially when it’s very obvious that you have not read much of my blog, understand how we homeschool, or seen all the science activities I have done with my children. For many years, science was my eldest son’s major interest, but now that he’s practicing piano 2+ hours per day, his interest in it has waned a bit, which I think is understandable. But he’s so far ahead in science already, I think I can give him a break from it for awhile. Although, we still get a good dose of science in the daily science documentaries we watch.

      You can check out my table of contents, if you would like to see all our past activities. In my homeschool, I pick many activities & lessons we do, and I also give them a lot of freedom to choose. I have learned from my years of parenting and homeschooling that the best way of getting my boys to do something is to start doing it myself. They are often interested in knowing what I’m doing, and then they become interested in doing it too. But sometimes not, and that’s okay. If I force something and make it part of their lessons, then they may pay less attention and get much less out of it.

      Also, perhaps you misunderstood, but in the post, I stated: “Sometimes my boys would help me with these projects and other times not. I didn’t require them to.” I didn’t feel it was important to go into the details, but my boys did help me with Lab in the Wild, The Great Backyard Bird Count, Budburst, the soil collection program, growing milkweed, and Bugs in our Backyard. In other cases, I needed to keep up with my project and write for the publication I was obligated to write for, and the boys were busy doing other things or either just not as interested in that particular project. I think it’s okay for a mother to do her own thing sometimes, but that’s just my opinion.

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