April is Citizen Science Month. Citizen science is the collection and analysis of data relating to the natural world by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists. Citizen science involves volunteers collecting scientific data like counting the number of a certain type of bird or flower seen in their neighborhood or taking pictures and submitting them through an app. It is a wonderful way for children to gain science experience and directly help the scientific community while also spending time outside in nature.
This time outside working on citizen science projects can help kids feel happier and calmer. These activities are very engaging for children as they take pictures or count a specific type of plant or animal, so they become very focused and lost in the moment. Therefore, citizen science can stimulate mindfulness, which has been shown to tremendously improve well-being. In addition, volunteering outside in nature, helps us feel better as we give back to others and our community.
Citizen Science Month offers thousands of opportunities for families to turn curiosity into impact. There is something for everyone, no matter your age or where you live. Join others in learning about and participating in real (and fun) ways to help scientists answer questions they cannot answer without you. Learn more about Citizen Science Month.
While April is a special month for citizen science, you can participate in citizen science projects all year round. You can find citizen science projects using the following resources:
- CitizenScience.gov: This searchable database provides a government-wide listing of citizen science projects.
- SciStarter: Provides a database of more than 3,000 vetted projects and events searchable by location, topic, interest, and more.
- Zooniverse: The world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered volunteer research.
During the month of May, you can get involved with BackyardBio. This is a global nature campaign that encourages the public, and especially kids, to get outdoors exploring and looking for all the wildlife that lives near them. The goal is for people around the world to document what they find through photographs, sketches, and stories and share them with others to help foster a worldwide appreciation for local biodiversity everywhere. The campaign is inspired by the NatureForAll movement, the largest collaboration of nature education organizations in the world all pushing for a world where everyone has access to nature and recognizes its true value.
BackyardBio will help you spend quality time outdoors exploring your backyard, front yard, neighborhood, school yard, local parks, conservation areas, and more to find as many different species of plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds, mammals, crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, fungi (you name it!) as you can. This can be a big family or classroom project or just ten minutes looking and listening to see what you discover. Every minute engaging with the natural world is valuable and healing!
There are three ways you can share what you discover:
- On social media using the #backyardbio. Share images of wild creatures or of your family/classroom getting out enjoying nature.
- Via the INaturalist App. By joining the BackyardBio INaturalist project, your observations will be collated together to provide a snapshot of all the living things around the globe. For younger kids and classes, you can use the Seek App instead since it makes nature learning an engaging game and prevents location data from being collected.
- For teachers, there is the option to register your classroom on the BackyardBio.net website where your class will be partnered with others of the same age around the world to join in a shared backyardbio experience.
It couldn’t be easier to join the adventure and take part in BackyardBio! The program is a fun and easy activity to get your family or students exploring biodiversity and sharing their passion for nature with the world, while also feeling happier and calmer.