What is citizen science?
Citizen science, also known as community science, is a science based on the teamwork between research professionals and community members. This collaborative form of science allows for enhanced research and monitoring, it provides hands on learning and increases STEM, while also collecting rich amounts of data.
Citizen science is used on a diversity of topics and scales! Some examples include (but are definitely not limited to) eBird, iNaturalists, Nurdle Patrol, and Smoke Sense. People of all ages and educational backgrounds with an interest in science, the natural world, or just curious about how data is collected, are encouraged to dip their toes into the world of community science. Citizen science can lead to the creation of next generation of scientists, researchers, and conservation leaders!
To help you find citizen science projects that interest or are near you, please visit Citizenscience.gov or Citizenscience.org (both great resources!).
Interested in doing some marine debris focused community science with us? Keep scrolling!
The Mississippi Coastal Cleanup Program is continuing what originally was a gulf-wide citizen scientist microplastic monitoring project awarded to Mississippi State University by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. This project gave a first Gulf-wide look at microplastic abundance in the Northern Gulf of Mexico with 12 project partners – spanning from Corpus Christi, Texas to Key Largo, Florida working together for this effort. The study narrowed down what type of microplastic (bead, fiber, fragment, or film) is the most prevalent in the Gulf. To accomplish this, partners trained their local citizen scientist how to sample, process, and analyze microplastics from the local waterways and beach sediment. Microplastics were counted and classified into the four separate types by the citizen science volunteers finding that the most common type of microplastic encountered was fibers, particularly in the water samples. These dedicated citizen scientists contributed to the collection and analysis of over 500 samples! All submitted data was put into an interactive map you can view here.
Want to plunge into the world of citizen science?
We are looking for volunteers to join us in this citizen science effort and keep the microplastic monitoring going!
Citizen scientists will be trained by and work alongside scientists to:
- Collect water samples. Water samples can be collected from any local water body! This include a local stream, bayou, river, beach, sink...
- Process water samples. Processing the water samples will ready the samples for a fun game of Where's Waldo ... the microplastic version.
- Analyze water samples. What will we find once we put the sample under the microscope? Dirt? Sand? Small animals? Bugs? We shall see...
To participate, volunteers must:
1. Attend a training session where the lead scientists will teach you how to collect, process, and analyze microplastics from water samples. Volunteers will lead with a sample collection kit.
2. Coordinate with the lead scientist on collection and processing days. We provide the supplies and the lab!
3. Be open to learn new and try new things!
For any questions or to get involved, please email Mandy at firstname.lastname@example.org