Website review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2013


Global citizen-science community for real-world research

Learning rating
Community rating
Based on 4 reviews
Privacy rating
50%| Warning Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Subjects & Skills
Science, Character & SEL, Critical Thinking, Communication & Collaboration

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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.

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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.

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
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

Community Rating

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Featured review by
Cynthia M. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Aptos Middle School
San Francisco, United States
Excellent way to get students outside to photograph local flora and fauna.
iNaturalist is a great way to get your students outside with their cell phones and or iPads to learn photo taking skills, and to discover plants and animals in their neighborhoods. Students communicate not only with each other but also those individuals connected with the scientific community.
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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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