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Spend Your Summer as a Bay Area Citizen Scientist

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Redwoods in Redwoods Regional Park

Are you looking for some science-related activities this summer? Why not help scientists with real research and have fun doing it? Citizen science is a fast-growing movement where members of the general public contribute to scientific research. Here’s a list of some fun citizen science projects in the Bay Area that you can get involved with. Check out resources from PBS LearningMedia to learn more about the science behind the projects!

Citizen Science at the California Academy of Sciences

Mt. Tamalpais watershed
Mt. Tamalpais watershed from Mt. Tamalpais summit. (Miguel Vieira/ Flickr)

Right inside Golden Gate Park is the California Academy of Sciences, which offers multiple citizen science opportunities. For example, you could help the Academy and the Marin Municipal Water District survey the Mt. Tamalpais watershed to document and collect every known plant species in the area. Or, you can head to Pillar Point and join the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary in documenting the area’s biodiversity. You can even do citizen science in your own backyard if you live in San Francisco to help document the diversity of plants and animals in the city. Learn more about the programs and how to join them here.

PBS LearningMedia Resource
Journey to the Farallones
In this video from KQED QUEST, find out how unexpected, recent climate change is affecting life on and around the Farallon Islands. The Farallon Islands aren’t just a unique habitat, they’re also a bellwether for climate change.

Citizen Science at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Allie_Caulfield/ Flickr)

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has amazing opportunities for citizen scientists in the Bay Area. At the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Fremont, scientists are observing and documenting how climate change is affecting plants in the area. In order to fully understand this effect, the plants need to be monitored throughout the year. The timing of when plants flower and form fruit has direct consequences for migrating wildlife. The Refuge also monitors birds and has plans to restore the upland areas along the Marsh View Trail at the Environmental Educational Center in Alviso. They want citizen scientists to help them figure out which species of birds are using the habitat. For more information and to get involved in these projects you can visit their website.


PBS LearningMedia Resource
Disappearing Plants
In this video slideshow, learn how a slight change in average temperature in an area can result in different vegetation patterns and that climate models project widespread loss of habitat for about two-thirds of California’s plants.

Citizen Science at Chabot Space and Science Center

Redwoods (Cary Bass-Deschenes/ Flickr)

With Chabot, you can help investigate the coastal redwood ecosystem, which is unique to Northern California. Scientists at Chabot are interested in how global climate change could have negative consequences to this ecosystem. Monitoring the redwoods also helps inform scientists about how climate change affects the life cycles of salamanders, newts and ferns. Citizen scientists collect weather data and data on redwood forest indicators. Learn more about how to help keep the redwoods thriving in Northern California.

PBS LearningMedia Resource
Redwoods and Climate Change
In this video, follow a group of UC Berkeley scientists to the top of a 320-foot redwood in Mendocino County. See how scientists are trying to predict how the remaining redwoods and their descendants might fare in the face of climate change in the decades to come.

Want to learn about other citizen science opportunities in the Bay Area? Check out the Bay Area Citizen Science Facebook group and this list compiled by the UC California Naturalist Program. Are you involved in any exciting citizen science activities? Share them in the comments below.

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