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science wants you

This documentary series spotlights people taking science into their own hands.

On the new PBS show The Crowd & The Cloud, former NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati introduces us to “citizen scientists.” These everyday folks help professional scientists by gathering boots-on-the-ground data — testing air quality, tracking mosquitos, and measuring rainfall.

Take these NYC high schoolers, who are working at the Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge after it was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. They are helping to restore native habitat by counting pollinators, collecting seeds, and planting new patches of pollinator-friendly plants.

The more information scientists have, the better they can do their jobs. But gathering data can be tricky using traditional scientific monitoring. For example, a meteorologist might look at satellite imagery of a storm, but radar doesn’t reveal if it’s producing hail or how large the hailstones are. That’s where citizen scientists come in.

And guess what? You can become one yourself!