Science is far more accessible than we think.
The most essential equipment a keen citizen scientist can have is curiosity about our natural world and motivation to pursue their questions. Most citizen science projects require minimal to no training or specialized equipment. Thanks to applications such as the Open Tree Map used by Trees Please, data from many projects can be accessed directly on smart phones or other personal electronic devices.
Here are a few reasons why citizen science is definitely something you want to get involved in:
1. When many people are involved in making observations and gathering data for a scientific project it is possible to create large databases and conduct studies on a large scale. For example, the longest running wildlife census has been made possible by thousands of enthusiastic volunteers who participate in the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas bird count.
2. Participants in citizen science projects are in a great position to learn about environmental and social issues. When you participate in a Trees Please inventory, you learn first-hand about the need for trees in Hamilton’s industrial areas. Volunteers are leading their own education in a way that can also build teamwork and communication skills.
3. Citizen science encourages question based learning, which is fun and rewarding. “What kind of tree is this?” “Why might its leaves be damaged like that?” “Is this tree planted in an environment suited to its needs?” and so on. Projects also allow you to actively engage with scientific research and discovery as opposed to passively hearing about the findings on the news. You can be proud that your participation made scientific research possible!
Below are links to interesting articles and lists of projects you can take part in (apart from our own Trees Please and Air Monitoring projects, of course):