As researchers move to study large-scale trends in nature (e.g. observing migration patterns, monitoring invasive species, surveying climate change), the amount of data required is often beyond the capabilities of a single research team (Bonney et al., 2009). One way that researchers have been overcoming this obstacle is by collaborating with members of the public to collect and/or process data; a method known as citizen science (Silvertown, 2009). This cooperation allows researchers to not only gather large amounts of data but to also engage the public in science education and awareness of their work.
As citizen science has increased wildly in popularity, a conversation has started as to its role in the modern classroom. Traditional science laboratory assignments involve students following step-by-step instructions with a “correct” outcome. Citizen science on the other hand involves students following protocols to collect and analyze data; contributing to research questions where the answers are unknown by both their teachers and the scientific community (Trautmann et al., 2013).