From analyzing distant galaxies in order to help astronomers better understand the universe to protecting the coral reefs from climate change, there are plenty of cool ways you can contribute to science these days. And if you have been particularly attentive to the nature around you while in quarantine, there is a way to turn those observations into data that can power scientific research.
Here’s how: If you’re able to spot animals and plants, you can log them on iNaturalist, a website, an app run by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, which gathers observations from millions of people around the world and makes them available for researchers.
If you don’t have wildlife nearby, or you’re yearning for something more exotic than backyard critters, you can contribute to one of the projects on Notes from Nature, which relies on volunteers to transcribe handwritten notations on museum specimens so they can be available to scientists worldwide. Current projects range from Florida plants and California flowers to butterflies and other bugs—even parasites if that’s your thing.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, participation in both of these citizen science projects has spiked, showing an increased interest from people to collaborate with each other and build community.