Dust off your binoculars Rangers, because we’re going to play a game of I Spy
. And no, not on your neighbours this time. Instead, you’ll be doing some real detective work for all the world’s scientists.
What, you thought you needed to have a degree in biology, or ecology, or some other “ology” to make a difference? Think again! All you need is a pair of eyes (even one eye would do, really) some ears, and maybe a notebook so you can scribble down all your “detective” findings. Just remember to throw in an, “Elementary, my dear Watson” every now and again, to sound legit.
Back up a sec! Just what is citizen science exactly?
Well, it all started waaay back in 1900 when an American bird scientist had an idea. He declared that instead of shooting birds during the traditional Christmas Day hunt, that maybe it’d be more fun to count them instead. The idea totally took off (the birds were pretty happy about it as you could imagine) and now more than 50,000 bird watchers take part in this special event every year, from Canada to the Caribbean.
Thanks to all the data collected from the Christmas Bird Count, scientists were able to figure out in the 1980s that the American Black Duck was in trouble and decided to give them a helping hand. Across the planet regular people just like you, or “citizen scientists,” are making a huge difference, and not just when it comes to birds.
Until we invent a teleportation machine, scientists will have to rely on the help of citizen scientists to contribute observations about everything from frogs to flowers. Sometimes new species are even discovered this way!
That’s where the Encyclopedia of Life
comes in. This major planetary project aims to document Earth’s 1.8 million
known species, plus all the new ones discovered along the way. This global observatory could help scientists figure out where and why different habitats are disappearing. And the more we know about the problem, the more likely we’ll be able to do something to about it.
So grab your binoculars and check out all the other ways you can take action:
- Find out more about the Canadian Christmas Bird Count here.
Participate in one of or all of the Nature Watch programs
. There’s Frog Watch, Plant Watch, Worm Watch or Ice Watch!
Visiting a tropical location anytime soon with your family? Take part in Earth Dive
Earth Rangers is a non-profit organization that works to inspire and educate children about the environment. At EarthRangers.com kids can play games, discover amazing facts, meet animal ambassadors and fundraise to protect biodiversity.