Citizen Science for Children: A Pathway to Learning and Environmental Stewardship

Citizen science for children is a fantastic way to develop skills in scientific research and environmental monitoring, helping students  to feel connected to a larger community and purpose. Engaging children in citizen science projects can offer numerous lifelong benefits, which are categorized below into educational, social, and environmental advantages.

Educational benefits

Encouraging Curiosity and Learning
Citizen science naturally ignites children's curiosity about the world. Participating in these projects can spark a desire to learn more about scientific concepts. For example, a simple project like observing local bird species can lead to questions about migration patterns and habitat needs.

Improving Scientific Literacy
Involvement in citizen science for children helps with understanding scientific terminology and processes more deeply. For instance, collecting water samples from a creek and testing for pollutants introduces them to practical aspects of environmental science, such as data collection and analysis.

Providing Experiential Learning Opportunities
These projects allow children to apply scientific concepts in real-world settings. Hands-on activities, like measuring the pH level of rainwater, make abstract scientific principles concrete, enhancing both understanding and retention.

Social Benefits

Fostering a Sense of Purpose
When children contribute to real scientific research, they develop a sense of purpose. They come to understand that their actions can have a significant impact on the world, fostering a mature perspective on personal responsibility and achievement.

Building Community Connections
Citizen science for children fosters connection with peers and organizations that share similar interests. These projects can lead to new friendships and mentorships, offering social growth alongside educational development.

Environmental Benefits of Citizen Science for Children

Enhancing Outdoor Experiences
Many citizen science initiatives require spending time in nature, which can help children appreciate and understand the natural world. Activities like tracking local wildlife or planting native species can transform a simple outdoor walk into a rich educational experience.

Promoting Environmental Stewardship
By participating in these projects, children learn about environmental conservation first hand. This involvement can instill a lifelong commitment to environmental protection, inspiring them to pursue sustainable practices as they grow.

Give it a go!

Engaging in citizen science provides children with invaluable opportunities to explore and contribute to the world in meaningful ways. By participating in diverse projects, children not only gain scientific knowledge but also develop socially and emotionally. They learn about teamwork, problem-solving, and the joy of discovery. Whether identifying stars in the night sky or observing patterns in weather behaviour, citizen science is an enriching experience that can inspire children to become thoughtful, informed citizens.

Consider joining a Citizen-Science project in your community and discover the many benefits first-hand. Your contribution can make a real difference!

Some Citizen Science Projects that are suitable for Children


GLOBE Observer  is a project that collects data on clouds, land cover, and mosquito habitats. Children can participate by taking measurements with a smartphone and submitting their observations online.

flower bud

Nature's Notebook is a project that collects data on plant and animal phenology (the timing of seasonal events). Children can participate by observing and recording when plants bud, leaf out, and flower.

eBird is a project that collects data on bird sightings from around the world. Children can participate by keeping a list of birds they see and submitting their observations online.

Monarch butterfly

Monarch Larva Monitoring Project: The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project collects data on the population and health of monarch butterflies. Children can participate by searching for monarch caterpillars and submitting their observations online.

berries plant

Project Budburst: Project Budburst is a project that collects data on the timing of plant life cycle events such as leafing out, flowering, and fruiting. Children can participate by observing and recording these events.


iNaturalist: iNaturalist is a platform that allows users to upload photos of plants and animals they observe in the wild. Children can use the app to identify species and contribute to scientific research.


Great Sunflower Project: The Great Sunflower Project collects data on bee populations. Children can participate by planting sunflowers and observing the bees that visit them.


FrogWatch USA: FrogWatch USA is a project that collects data on frog and toad populations. Children can participate by listening for frog calls and reporting their observations.


Bat Detective: Bat Detective is a project that collects data on bat populations. Children can participate by listening to bat calls and identifying the species they hear.


NASA GLOBE Clouds: NASA GLOBE Clouds collects data on cloud cover and types. Children can participate by observing and recording cloud cover and submitting their observations online.

Top Tips for Presenting Citizen Science Projects to Children

Introducing children to citizen science can be both educational and exhilarating. Here are refined strategies for making these activities captivating and user-friendly:

Start with Clarity:

Begin your session by demystifying what citizen science entails. Explain how it enables everyday people to participate in genuine scientific research, using examples that resonate with their world, like tracking the seasonal movements of birds or observing how plants respond to changes in their environment.

Age-appropriate Projects:

Tailor the projects to suit the developmental stage of the children involved. For younger kids, simple projects like counting birds or noting the growth stages of a plant are ideal. Conversely, older children might find projects involving more detailed data analysis and interpretation intriguing and challenging.

Engage with Fun:

Make sure the citizen science project is not just educational but also fun. Infuse the project with interactive elements such as games, creative arts, or exciting outdoor explorations to spark their interest and curiosity.

Clear Instructions and Support:

Clearly articulate the objectives and the processes of the project. Offer straightforward instructions and, where necessary, hands-on training to ensure data is collected accurately and methodically.

Incorporate Technology:

Leverage familiar technology to make the projects more interactive and engaging. Utilizing apps or online platforms often increases participation and enthusiasm, transforming data collection into a tech-savvy adventure.

Celebrate Achievements:

Recognize and celebrate the children’s efforts and contributions. Share and discuss their findings with the group to show how their participation aids broader scientific research, boosting their sense of achievement and belonging.

Reflection and Feedback:

Encourage the children to reflect on their experiences. Ask questions that help them articulate what they enjoyed and what new insights they gained about science and nature through their participation.

By thoughtfully presenting citizen science, you not only make learning delightful but also kindle a lifelong passion for science and environmental stewardship among children.