Public participation in scientific research is a growing trend in our increasingly “crowdsourced” world. Citizen science, as it is called, typically involves data collection by members of the public who pass their information along to researchers trying to answer real-world questions.
Volunteer monitoring has contributed for many years to diverse fields ranging from astronomy to medicine and computer science to natural resource management. Volunteers benefit from opportunities for informal education, while contributing to outreach efforts that promote public understanding of scientific issues.
A NOAA Citizen Science Community of Practice was launched in the fall of 2013 to promote sharing and collaboration among projects. This effort relies on grassroots participation and focuses on three elements: compiling and sharing best practices, sharing resources, and creating a searchable database of NOAA's citizen science projects.
Currently, more than 65 citizen science projects within NOAA provide opportunities for people to engage in scientific investigation. At NOS, popular citizen science projects include: