Sharing what you see outside could help research. Here’s how to do that in 3 steps

Read the full story from NPR.

If you’ve been forced to stay close to home and spend more time outside like millions of Americans in the past couple of years, you might have noticed a lot more of what happens – naturally – in your neighborhood. From the songs of sparrows outside your apartment window to the purple crocuses bursting into bloom in a nearby park – all that nature you’re observing could actually be helpful to scientists.

Regular people like you and me can share what we see with scientists through apps and websites. That’s called “citizen” or “community” science. With our observations, we can help professional scientists study everything from the migratory patterns of birds to neighborhood air quality.

Why would scientists want to crowdsource? “A single scientist can work for years trying to collect as many observations as a crowdsourced project could collect in a month,” explains Maiz Connolly, the community science coordinator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

There are thousands of community science projects out there, and if you’ve got a smartphone or computer, you can participate in them. Here’s how to get started:

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