December 28, 2020

Community (citizen) science – latest from NASA and iSeeChange

Posted by Laura Guertin

There have been citizen science sessions and presentations at the AGU Fall Meeting for several years. And there have been posts on the AGU Blogosphere about citizen science, such as:

So why another post about citizen science after the 2020 AGU Fall Meeting? I want to call attention to two specific citizen science efforts shared at this year’s meeting – one through ISeeChange, and the other as part of the NASA Citizen Science program. I also want to encourage faculty to think about using citizen science apps as a way to engage students in their local environments, especially during remote/online instruction. Students can create collaborative data maps in addition to submitting their observations to the citizen science program. Citizen science programs also can serve as a foundation for undergraduate research efforts (such as what I’ve done with students through the Smithsonian Tree Banding Program [see the NAGT Teach the Earth portal activity description]).

Importantly, please share with your students that citizen science programs do not require one to be a citizen to participate! This question came up in the NASA Citizen Science session, and a suggestion was made to begin referring to citizen science as community science. Some organizations have made the switch with how they refer to their programs (see National Audubon Society), yet others warn against using using the phrase when referring to programs developed/benefitting in/for the community (see Dosemagen & Gehrke, 2017).


ISeeChange, a Community Climate and Weather Journal

It was great to see the CEO and founder of ISeeChange, Julia Kumari Drapkin, particiapting in one of the virtual social hours hosted by science rapper Baba Brinkman.

This app is an excellent one for every individual to utilize, but especially for educators to introduce and involve their students with. See this post on ISeeChange for Teachers to learn how to observe, reflect, and share local impacts of climate change. See this overview video for more of an introduction:

(If the video does not appear or play, you can view the video on YouTube)

This app will help students be active in the process of science – documenting, connecting, conversing, and contributing to solutions.

Learn more by visiting the ISeeChange website and be inspired by the ongoing projects and stories:


NASA Citizen Science

NASA had a session at the AGU Fall Meeting that focused on just their citizen science programs.

There isn’t a recording of the session posted online, but NASA does have a couple of videos about their citizen science programs, such as the ~3-minute overview by NASA Chief Scientist Dr. Jim Green on how to Make your own NASA Discoveries | Become a Citizen Scientist, posted December 16, 2020. In addition, there is a 30-minute session of NASA Science Live: You Too Can Do NASA Science, also posted December 16, 2020.

(If the video does not appear or play, you can view the video on YouTube)

I was surprised to learn that NASA has 22 active citizen science program, with 13 of them that can be done by anyone, anywhere. One program highlighted at the session is NeMO-Net, where “NeMO-Net is a single player iPad game where players help NASA classify coral reefs by painting 3D and 2D images of coral. Players can rate the classifications of other players and level up in the food chain as they explore and classify coral reefs and other shallow marine environments and creatures from locations all over the world!” Data submitted through the app helps NASA scientists train their supercomputer to classify coral on its own and augment low-resolution satellite datasets to create a global coral map. Explore this video for an introduction to NeMO-Net:

(If the video does not appear or play, you can view the video on YouTube)

You can follow the NASA Citizen Science program online ( and on Twitter at @DoNASAScience.



Don’t forget that the month of April is Global Citizen Science Month. Check out the online events and opportunities for you and your students in 2021! Visit: