How I Use It
SciStarter is a great resource for Citizen Science projects that are going on globally. Some specific projects that I would like my students to participate in this year are NASA's SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive) Satellite Project. In this study my students will collect and test local soil samples and compare their data to NASA's SMAP satellite data. The study requires a lot of materials but most of them are common and not too expensive. SciStarter provides a kit to one school in each state and there is a possibility that you can borrow the materials from SciStarter if you do not have the funds to acquire everything. The FreshWater Watch is another great project that we will hopefully participate in. My students always conduct a freshwater survey, where we compare data of multiple water sources with other classes in the school but this year I would like them to compare their data with a larger audience and to more water sources and this projects gives us that opportunity! Another project of interest is the Natural North Carolina project where you take photos of the biodiversity of your local area and submit them online. The Loss of the Night project is a great for teaching how light pollution impacts us. In this project students download an app with their cell phone (iPhone or Android) to see how visible the stars are in different local areas and share the data. Some of the SciStarter projects have lesson resources but some of the projects you will need to develop your own extension activities.
The SciStarter website is a good place to search for Citizen Science projects. I like how you can search by activity, subject, grade level and location. I also like the recommended picks for the classroom. This tab should be made more visible because currently it is very small and may be overlooked. The website could serve kids and teachers better if the projects were organized by date. On the website it is unclear if all the projects are still active or if there are deadlines to sign up to participate. Some of the projects are very detailed like NASA's SMAP project and give a clear description of materials needed and costs but others lack enough description for teachers to see if participating in these projects would be a feasible option economically. There is a filter in the search engine to search for free or low cost projects only which is helpful. Some advanced planning is required to participate in these projects so start looking early!