Charlotte Observer: “Citizen Science is in full flight.”

By April 1st, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Comment 1

This week, an article in the Charlotte Observer newspaper featured citizen scientist Benton Bragg and his family. The Braggs installed a video camera in an owl box to track the habits of the owl and her babies.

“We never know what we’re going to see,” Bragg said. “One night she brought in seven snakes. Another night it was salamander night. Once, she brought in what I think was one of my brother’s chickens.”

If you fancy owls, you’re in luck! Currently, there are two “Owl” citizen science projects in the Science For Citizens project finder: The Maine Owl Monitoring Program and Who’s Whooing? Studying Suburban Owls.
The article goes on to demonstrate the growing interest in all-things-citizen science, including an effort to form a professional society for practitioners (note the shameless plug):

Some developers of citizen science projects, like [Rick] Bonney of the Cornell Lab, are pushing to create a professional society for citizen science developers centered on creating best practices and guidelines.

Darlene Cavalier, co-founder of ScienceForCitizens.net, an online clearinghouse for more than 125 citizen science projects, said creating a professional society is a good idea so long as it includes smaller grassroots projects unaffiliated with a university or research institution.

Cavalier said she’s been “preaching the gospel” of citizen science for the past five years. She thinks the prejudice against citizen scientists producing faulty data is crumbling.

“There are so many credible institutions involved in citizen science now,” Cavalier said. “When you see Yale, Cornell and NASA doing it, I think that most scientists now see it is legitimate.”

Scientists and allied professionals may need some time to sort out the parameters of the burgeoning field, but anyone interested in getting involved should find many local opportunities once they start looking.

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  1. What a fabulous idea. Your article and the Bragg family project have got me noodling on doing something similar just for fun. I’ll report back if what I come up with is interesting. Until then, thanks for this post! New horizons.

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