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Experimenting with Volunteering in Science

Go Back to School, So to Speak.

Help K-12 students improve their science literacy online with science buddies. Their “Ask an Expert” program seeks volunteers from 10th grade and up to help students and their parents with upcoming science projects. Experts volunteer up to one hour, once per week, and usually commit to an entire school year. They also offer a My Science Buddies program where volunteers can sign up for short-term tasks like project testing, graphic design, image procurement, blog writing and more. Prefer to make an impact in your own community? You can coordinate with local schools on upcoming STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) projects. And if you have a science or mathematics background of any kind, consider volunteering as a one-on-one tutor for a local student in need.

Become an Armchair Scientist.

Make a difference in the science field from the comfort of your home with one the many volunteer scientist projects available online. The University of Oklahoma operates a citizen science soil collection program where you can submit a soil sample from your yard that just might end up becoming the next biomedical discovery. Bumble bees were recently placed on the Endangered Species List as their population has declined nearly 90% since the 1990s. But you can help aid in this species’ recovery simply by uploading photos of the bees you find in and around your community. Experts will evaluate the image(s) and help determine the bees’ status and conservation needs.

Got a few more minutes? You can help Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique restore their animal population. All you have to do is identify animals in trail camera photos as part of a crowd-sourced conservation effort.

Befriend the Planet.

The Earthwatch Institute invites volunteers to “join respected scientists in the field where they’re investigating critical environmental issues, and make hands-on contributions to research while experiencing the cultural and natural wonders of places around the globe.” You can search for upcoming expeditions in the fields of archaeology, climate change, ocean health and wildlife and ecosystems, on all seven continents. Closer to home, there’s, America’s Natural and Cultural Resources Volunteer Portal. Find opportunities by state, date and area of interest for the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Geological Survey and more.

Help Predict the Weather.

The NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory collects public weather reports through a free app available for smart phones or mobile devices. The app is called “mPING,” for Meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground. You select the type of weather that’s occurring near you, and use the app to submit an anonymous report that helps weather scientists around the world. You can also create your own weather stationand join a network of over 250,000 weather enthusiasts sharing weather information at weather underground. Or contact your local TV or radio station to ask how you contribute to the accuracy of their reports by providing data from your area.

Find more opportunities to serve as a citizen scientist here. Just enter keyword “science.”

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