Cristy Burne shares her seven favourite Australian citizen science projects


Citizen science is about scientists and volunteers working together on real-life, hands-on research. You and your students can contribute to some amazing projects and discoveries, all from the comfort of your computer.

The Australian Citizen Science Project Finder lists more than 500 projects to get involved with. Here are seven of my favourite:

Platypus swimming through the water
PlatypusSPOT

PlatypusSPOT

Okay, okay, so you might find this project a little slow if you’re from WA … but, it’s still super cool. PlatypusSPOT is a crowd-sourced platypus tracking app. Anyone lucky enough to see a wild platypus logs their viewing into the app, helping to paint a picture of how many platypuses are left in the wild. Thanks to citizen scientists, we can better assess how platypuses are faring and hopefully develop conservation policies and projects to protect these incredible creatures. My latest book features platypuses, so I just had to include this great project!

Wildlife Spotter

Ever wanted to be a spy with night vision? Or wondered what wild animals get up to when they think they’re alone? Now you can experience all of this and the thrill of knowing you’re helping conservation projects. Wildlife Spotter relies on ordinary people to view footage captured by motion-activated cameras. From pygmy possums feeding in Kosciuszko National Park to wild pigs wrecking waterholes, there’s lots of secret animal business to observe and report. 

frogID app
FrogID

FrogID

There are more than 200 native frog species in Australia, but which ones are in your local waterway? Next time you hear a frog, grab your phone and start recording. Whether it’s a ribbit, croak, chirp or trill, a frog’s call can be used to identify it. That’s the idea behind FrogID, a free app launched as part of National Frog Week. Each time you identify a frog, you help to collect data about the distribution of frog species across Australia.

AstroQuest

Want to be the first person in the world to see a galaxy? Check out AstroQuest, an Australian astronomy project that asks volunteers to help us learn about our universe. Your job is to inspect distant galaxies. Yes, you read that right. Humans are way better than computers at identifying the boundaries of galaxies, and our telescopes collect millions of images from deep space that need someone to analyse them! This site is waiting for more images to land in the next few months…

Jellyfish along a beach
JellyWatch

JellyWatch

Spotted a bloom of jellyfish on your local beach? Or a strange jelly you’ve never seen before? Report it as part of JellyWatch, a planet-wide effort to track changes in our oceans. I love this one just for the name, but it’s also a great way to contribute to a global project.

Labelling challenge

Combine your love of polygons with a passion for wild places in this brilliant challenge. Your job is to spot some of the 500,000+ fish recently filmed in the billabongs of Kakadu National Park. Every time you spot a fish, you draw a polygon around it, helping to train artificial intelligence to eventually do the job for you.

Two sea lions laying on rocks
Sea lion spotter

Sea lion spotter

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPSW) of South Australia needs your help! Sea lions have recently been classified as an endangered species, and with thousands of drone images captured the NPSW have launched a website here you can learn how to identify the sea lions and then spot the animals and tag them as either males, females or pups. It’s like a ‘Where’s Wally’ for sea lions!


Books discussed
Beneath the Trees
Off the Track
To the Lighthouse

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