Technology Connections. Great Online Tools for Citizen Science

Citizen science describes a range of efforts that invites members of the public without formal training to help create scientific knowledge, often by helping to collect data. Many citizen science projects are perfect for students who are learning about science in school, in fact, many projects are targeted towards students. Technology has allowed citizen science projects to flourish by making it easy to capture and submit data online. This same technology has also enabled scientists to mentor students from a distance through interactive tutorials and quick responses to queries and comments. As a librarian or peer educator, you can find citizen science projects in areas of study like astronomy, botany, marine biology, ornithology, paleontology, and more. The opportunities for collaboration within our schools, school libraries, and community are plentiful (Scripa and Moorefield-Lang 2013).


Zooniverse claims to be "the largest and most popular platform for people-powered research." All around the world, students, librarians, and educators can add to discoveries and learning in a wide range of fields. If you are looking for a new citizen science project for your school or library this is a great site to visit. Look at their Zooteach website ( for lessons and other teaching resources shared by teachers and educators.


SciStarter is another great place to participate in science by contributing to over 1,600 projects and events through the site's database. You can also use SciStarter to bookmark items that interest you and keep track of your contributions. Everything for your citizen science needs in one spot.

National Audubon Society:

For 118 years the National Audubon Society has held a Christmas Bird Count. It takes place from mid-December into early January. What started out over a hundred years ago as friends enjoying bird watching has turned into one of the largest and longest-running wildlife surveys. Taking part is easy. Visit Audubon's website, view the information on the bird count, look at their very impressive map, find your location, and sign up. Just think of the project and collaboration opportunities for a science or social studies class. All of the data are stored in a database curated by the National Audubon Society. If you are looking for an outdoor activity that ties into research and on-your-feet data gathering, the Christmas Bird Count is a great one to try.


This last one is a bit of a deviation from the pure citizen science idea, but it still falls into the category of collaborative learning and sharing. DIY is a community of makers that is intended to be a safe space for young people ages six to sixteen to learn new skills, share completed projects, and find other creative kids around the world who share their passions. There is a skills library with hundreds of challenges. Teachers and librarians can create their dashboards to follow along and observe progress and growth and young people can work together on projects. While DIY is not citizen science by definition, what can be built and created here can certainly fall into the spirit of this movement.

Citizen science is, at its core, about collaboration. Students, teachers, librarians, and scientists all working together toward a common goal or project. Collaboration at this level is a win for everyone. Not only can science at this level be incredibly interesting, but it is fun too. With the addition of STEM and STEAM curricula in our schools and districts, citizen science is an excellent and practical way to integrate hands-on scientific learning experiences into our student's daily instruction.

Work Cited

Scripa, Allison, and Heather MoorefieId-Lang. "Putting the Citizen in Science." Knowledge Quest 41, no. 4 (2013), 54.

About the Author

Heather Moorefield-Lang, EdD, is an assistant professor for the Department of Library and Information Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. To see more of Heather's work visit her website at, email her at, or follow her on Twitter @actinginthelib.

MLA Citation Moorefield-Lang, Heather. "Technology Connections. Great Online Tools for Citizen Science." School Library Connection, May 2018,

View all citation styles

Entry ID: 2147969

Back to Top