Global citizen-science community for real-world research

Learning rating

Community rating

Based on 4 reviews

Privacy rating

Expert evaluation by Common Sense



Subjects & Skills

Character & SEL, Critical Thinking, Science

Price: Free
Platforms: Web

Pros: Students can collect data about species diversity as citizen scientists.

Cons: The site is missing opportunities for teens to use the data they collect to see the importance of biodiversity.

Bottom Line: Teens can do hands-on nature research, but in a limited way.

Classes learning about species conservation and biodiversity could use iNaturalist to expand classroom learning. Make scientific research relevant by encouraging your students to contribute to real research projects such as Ventura County Biodiversity Watch or Southwest Virginia CSI. These community-based efforts combine observations from large groups of users to find out the number and types of organisms in an area. You can also start your own project and have teens join. This allows the class to collaborate and share observations focused on a local goal.  When setting up a project you can limit the observation area to a certain place near your school.

iNaturalist is a social networking tool very similar to Project Noah that allows nature lovers to post observations and pictures of living things. Everyone has a profile, and users can follow others to see what photos they post. It's also possible to browse posts by species or location. A team of volunteer experts monitors the site, confirming identification of organisms. iNaturalist also promotes projects like Global Reptile BioBlitz, where posts about organisms are used in actual research on biodiversity. 

Citizen science networks exemplify the nature of science because they allow researchers and everyday citizens from all over to share data and build knowledge together. Teens can see how classroom learning is relevant on a global scale. And for many, having an audience that extends beyond the classroom walls can make science projects feel more interesting and important.

Adding supplemental activities that help kids use the data to expand their knowledge of biodiversity and why it's important would extend the learning beyond basic species identification. In addition, a teacher dashboard for tracking student observations and the ability to set up closed classes would be helpful.

Standout Projects

Great Sunflower Project -- Photograph and document pollinators in your area.
State Flowers of the United States -- An ongoing citizen collection of images of the flowers in the U.S.
Pasadena Area Biodiversity UC California Naturalist Project -- Monitor biodiversity in the greater Pasadena area.

Learning Rating

Overall Rating

Teens who love nature will enjoy sharing their observations with the people all over the world.


Scientific research becomes more relevant as teens get feedback from a knowledgeable community of professional and amateur scientists. Teens are empowered to observe the world around them. 


A lack of extension activities keeps teens from moving beyond simply identifying organisms. In addition, the site is limited to English speakers only.

Common Sense reviewer

Community Rating

Explore, Learn, and Record with iNaturalist

There are several features of iNaturalist (iNat) that allow for a variety of teaching approaches and learning modalities. In the 'Observations' field, students can add species observations themselves, or ask the iNat community of experts for help with an identification. The species menu is a rich resource containing scientific information for a vast amount of plant and animal life. The 'Projects' menu helps individual or small groups of students build a project based on their scientific observations. Other menus include a species location search using Google Maps, guides that help students learn about nature around the world and a people menu, where students can follow their favorite iNat contributor. While the reading level is elevated, the addition of vibrant photos help students understand the non-fiction text. The site is rich in content and very well organized, therefore making its use easy to navigate.

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Privacy Rating

Data Safety How safe is this product?

  • Unclear whether this product supports interactions between trusted users.
  • Personal information can be displayed publicly.
  • User-created content is not filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.

Data Rights What rights do I have to the data?

  • Users can create or upload content.
  • Processes to access or review user data are available.
  • Processes to modify data are available for authorized users.

Ads & Tracking Are there advertisements or tracking?

  • Personal information is not shared for third-party marketing.
  • Unclear whether this product displays traditional or contextual advertisements.
  • Unclear whether this product displays personalised advertising.

Continue reading about this tool's privacy practices, including data collection, sharing, and security.

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