November 15, 2012
Citizen Science Highlighted By Major News Magazine
April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Over the last decade, there has been a rapid growth in "citizen science" projects, allowing more and more science enthusiasts, hobbyists, students and other ordinary people to participate in the excitement of real-world scientific research and help solve serious scientific mysteries.This month's cover story in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society, is all about citizen scientists and their contributions.
The article, written by Deirdre Lockwood, traces the growth of citizen science from the Audubon Christmas Bird Count of 1900 to a recent rainwater collection project to help researchers analyze Hurricane Sandy.
Today's scientists are harnessing the power of crowdsourcing to expand research projects and distribute tasks like data collection to large groups of people. Funding, enthusiasm and technology have fueled this citizen science movement. The National Science Foundation (NSF) funding has grown from a handful of projects each year in the early 2000s to at least 25 a year currently.
Examples of projects include helping to curate the chemical structure database ChemSpider, monitoring water quality in local waterways or playing the puzzle game, Foldit. Foldit users figured out the structure of a complex molecule that stumped professional scientists for years before the game. One chemist even developed a Legos kit that allows students at 70 high schools and colleges to join a search for compounds to help make hydrogen gas from sunlight and water.