Discovering the Great Indoors is the headline of a NY Time column today. It talks about a “citizens scientist” initiative for people to photograph insects in their home and upload it to a site called iNaturalist, where scientists then help identify the species and use the information for research.

When I went to the site, I learned that this effort is just a tiny fraction of its features.

Anyone can use their app to take pictures of just about anything in nature and contribute to an enormous real-world science project.

Here’s how they describe it:

One of the world’s most popular nature apps, iNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over 750,000 scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature! What’s more, by recording and sharing your observations, you’ll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature. iNaturalist is a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.

They also have a separate teacher page filled with ideas on how to use the app and site.

I periodically use science projects as language-learning opportunities, this app seems like a great tool – it’s always much more motivating for students when they are doing something that has an “authentic audience” other than the teacher!

Here’s a video about the site:

Zooniverse and GlobalXplorer are two other tools where students can do science projects that have a real-world impact. Read about them at:

Have Students Use “GlobalXplorer” To Become “Armchair Archaeologists”

“Zooniverse” Is One Of The Coolest Ed Sites On The Web – I Can’t Believe I’m Just Hearing About It!

You might also be interested in:

Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience

The Best Sites Where Students Can Transcribe Historical Texts