What is citizen science?

"Citizen science" is the latest buzzword in science education circles. Professional science has become highly compartmentalized (my degree isn't in "science", it's in "physical inorganic mechanistic chemistry"). But non-specialists can contribute meaningfully to the scientific process. There have been recent articles in the NY Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, NPR's Science Friday and so on. Most projects consist of using amateur scientists for data collection (like counting birds or measuring snow). Others like those from Zooiverse involve data analysis and looking at really pretty space pictures. The "largest science experiment in the world" is starting up as UNESCO tries to get people all over the world involved in measuring and thinking about water quality. Bard College just started requiring all of their students to take Citizen Science as a course, and there are three entire journals devoted to the topic. The goal of this movement is to get 'normal people' to realize that science isn't just a technical, scary endeavor conducted by nerds in lab coats. Science is a way of asking questions about the natural world that can be enjoyed by anyone, even those without 8 years of specialized training.