While most of us studied science at school, it was some time ago for many people. With lots more exciting things competing to use our memories, our detailed knowledge of science is something that slowly disappears. However science is important to us in many ways, whether you're a keen gardener, enjoy creative cooking, or watch native birds and animals.
The University of South Australia's Discovery Circle initiative has teamed up with the Office for the Ageing to bring the Discover Citizen Science program to us. It's run by Dr Philip Roetman, the man behind the BioBlitz in Adelaide series of events, and other events included The Vital Importance of Fungi. These free Discover Citizen Science workshops are being held in Adelaide and around South Australia for people aged over 50 years old.
You Can Become a Citizen Scientist If You Are Over 50 (Image Supplied)
Citizen science projects bring together scientists and members of the community. Millions of people are getting involved, making valuable contributions and gaining new skills and knowledge along the way. There is a huge range of free citizen science projects that are open for public participation, and many different ways to be involved. Some projects involve outdoor activities while others can be done indoors. Some projects can be done individually, while others are great for groups. Some projects require technology, like smartphones, while others do not.
Participating in Discover Citizen Science projects can assist with healthy ageing - although that's not the only reason to join in the fun things to do. Outdoor projects can improve your physical health as you go walking to record plants or wildlife, or head out into your garden to record your crop harvests. BioBlitz events are a fun way to get outdoors and explore new places with friends or family in a positive social environment.
Track Your Pet Cat and Help a Scientist (Image Supplied)
Participation in citizen science can also be excellent mental exercise. You can learn about topics like local native wildlife, astronomy, meteorology or medical research. The things that you do will provide good exercise for your brain too, like solving puzzles, identifying animals, classifying galaxies, or transcribing historical records. Your help is valuable for the scientists too, helping them to conduct research that would be difficult without the assistance of many people like you. And while you are contributing to citizen science projects, you gain skills, meet like minded people, and learn new things.
There are thousands of free citizen science projects around the world, here are a few examples:
Echidna CSI: help conservation science by recording echidna sightings; you can even collect echidna scats (i.e. poo) – but only if you want to.
Foldit: make a contribution to biomedical research by playing an online game to help design new proteins (training is provided, and you can work individually or as a team).
Edible Gardens: help environmental scientists study the productivity of home gardens by monitoring your water usage and harvesting of fruits, vegetables, eggs and anything edible.
Galaxy Zoo: assist astronomers in their research about distant galaxies by reviewing and classifying photographs of space.
Cat Tracker: help understand cat behaviour by using a GPS tracking device to record the movements of your pet cat.
Discover Citizen Science at the Beach in Adelaide (Image Supplied)
There are now thousands of different ways to take part in Discover Citizen Science projects, with or without experience. It doesn't matter who you are, the team will find a citizen science activity that will interest you.
Discover Citizen Science free workshops from UniSA's Discovery Circle are being held in Adelaide and around South Australia for anyone aged over 50 years of age. Taking part is easy. Just head over the Discovery Circle website and choose a location and session time to attend. Click the button to register online and you're in business. It's that simple!