Citizen Science

Close up of a deer's face, taken by a hidden camera trap in the woods.

Teens, supported by teachers, are setting up eMammal camera traps around the world to capture data on mammals. Camera trap photo by Michael Biggerstaff.

What is a Citizen Scientist?

A citizen scientist is someone who is not necessarily trained as a scientist, but who participates in scientific projects. Citizen scientists may go in the field with trained scientists, or work independently to help with projects that are posted online. This may include gathering data, reporting on findings, or doing other aspects of research.

Citizen involvement in scientific research has opened the door to large-scale data collection and analysis that a scientist would be unable to complete alone. Citizen scientists help with efforts as diverse as mapping wildlife to measuring rainfall to counting meteors. Citizen science is stretching the boundaries of what's possible to achieve in science. 

Who can be a Citizen Scientist?

Anyone can be a citizen scientist. It only takes an interest, some curiosity, and a little time to volunteer. Citizen science is available to people of all ages. Tweens and teens who want to contribute to real science can get involved. Teachers can bring citizen science into their classrooms, engaging students in authentic and relevant science.

Thousands of people worldwide are volunteering as citizen scientists, helping to gain an understanding of the world we live in. As citizen scientists become actively engaged in projects, their own understanding of science increases, empowering them as savvy citizens of Earth. 

Citizen Science Opportunities via the National Museum of Natural History


With instructions for making your own cubic-foot sampling tool, Biocubes: Exploring Biodiversity invites people to collect and share biodiversity data and photos.

Green cube frame on rocky beach next to ocean.

Field Books

With more than 900 projects and 144,000 pages, the Smithsonian Transcription Center invites people to digitize scientists’ field books so the information is available globally.

Handwritten field book form


With camera traps in four countries, Emammal invites people to monitor and share records of wildlife in their own backyards, adding to our understanding of where and how mammals live.

White-tailed deer in woods staring straight ahead.


With a partnership between Smithsonian and the British Geology Survey, myVolcano invites participants to monitor volcanoes for signs of activity.


Google Earth image with label for Vesuvius

See all Smithsonian citizen science projects here.