Citizen science: education and events for the community

Community Science, also known as Citizen Science, is part of a wider phenomenon—Public Participation in Scientific Research (PPSR)—that includes any organized research activity in which members of the public function as lay-scientists - asking questions, collecting data, and/or interpreting results.

Community Science provides an opportunity for people of all ages to take part in the scientific process.

Here, you'll find information about local, regional, national, and global PPSR projects.


Invasive Species Strike Team: meets the 2nd Saturday of each month (March-December) from 9:00AM-noon at the Ornithology Center at Eagle Creek Park (use the 71st Street entrance) to remove invasive species. For more information, contact Brenda Howard (Senior Ecologist, Indy Parks, Department of Public Works - City of Indianapolis, 317-327-7470).

KIB Pollinator Count: a way to engage community scientists in the important work of counting pollinators and educating Hoosiers on the need to plant native to help people and nature thrive. For more information, visit the Keep Indianapolis Beautiful website.

Lights Out Indy (Bird Safe Indy): join volunteers with the Amos Butler Audubon Society of Central Indiana to monitor bird-building collisions during spring and fall migration. Many birds migrate at night, and building lights (especially those of skyscrapers) can disorient birds, leading to collisions and fatalities. The mass collisions occurring in Chicago on the night of October 4-5, 2023, are a tragic example of an issue that plays out on a smaller scale on a nightly basis throughout the migration season. The Lights Out Indy project is designed to raise awareness of this issue, as well as some of the simple solutions that can be used to address it. Contact the Amos Butler Audubon Society for more inromation.


Tick INsiders: collect ticks to track the prevalence of tick-borne pathogens in Indiana; ticks are sent to Purdue University's Tick INsiders program, run by Dr. Cate Hill (Professor of Entomology).

Report INvasives: report sightings of invasive species (plants and animals) in Indiana; website hosted by the Purdue College of Agriculture and the Indiana Invasive Species Council. Visit the Report INvasives website to learn more.

National and Global

eBird: year-round contributions to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology database. Visit the ebird website to learn more.

iNaturalist: year-round contributions to the iNaturalist database (established by the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic). Visit the iNaturalist website to learn more.

IU Digital Herbarium: use your photography skills to add to Indiana University's digital herbarium. Join in the photographic scavenger hunt! The IU project is part of the Consortium of Midwest Herbaria.

Global Big Day: report birds sighted throughout the day of the count; this event is designed to capture data during the spring migration; sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this is a world wide event. Learn more about Global Big Day.

Project Feederwatch: report bird sightings at your feeding station November-April; sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Visit the Project Feederwatch website to learn more.

Great Backyard Bird Count: the 2024 count takes place February 16-19; sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Audubon Society, and Bird Studies Canada, this is a world wide event. Visit the Great Backyard Bird Count website for more information.

FrogWatch: report frog & toad vocalizations February-August; sponsored by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Visit the FrogWatch website.

Project Budburst: report flowering times of local plants; sponsored by the Chicago Botanic Garden. Visit to find out more.

GLEDN: smartphone app for reporting invasive species. Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN) is connected with EDDMapS Midwest (Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System for the Midwest). Download the app from the Bugwood website.

GlobalXplorer: use satellite data to look for looting at archaeological sites; the project was originated by Dr. Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama. Read about the GlobalXplorer platform on and visit the GlobalXplorer website to learn more.

National Moth Week: celebrates the beauty, life cycles, and habitats of moths. Become a Citizen Scientist and contribute scientific data about moths. This is a world wide event, and is typically held during the last full week of July. NMW is a project of the Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission. Visit the NMW website to learn more.

The investigative power of the people

Researchers from a variety of disciplines—ranging from archaeology to biology to geology to astronomy—are harnessing the investigative power of the people. Community scientists have contributed to the search for and protection of archaeological sites, mapped light pollution through star counts, tracked changes in populations of different kinds of plants and animals, monitored earthquakes and landslides, detected invasive species, and much, much more! If it's science, and you have an interest in it, there is probably a PPSR project related to it!

Community Science provides an opportunity for people of all ages to take part in the scientific process. By involving the general public in their research, scientists are able to greatly expand the scope of their work and gather much more data—over much larger areas—than they could by following the traditional method of working alone or in small teams. PPSR is also a tremendous opportunity for people with an interest in science to learn about and contribute to scientific endeavors.

Community Science projects are useful tools for teachers, as participation enables their students to rigorously explore science and science concepts. Projects suitable for elementary, middle school, or high school students are available: some PPSR projects accept participants of all ages, while other projects are specifically geared towards younger or older participants.