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“Citizen Science” typically is the term used to describe crowdsourced projects that citizens, including students, can help with and that contribute towards a common good.

Having an “authentic audience” – someone other than a teacher – can contribute to student engagement and intrinsic motivation.

There are lots of these kinds of citizen science projects out there, and you can find many at The Best Sites Where Students Can Participate In Citizen Science Projects.

Smithsonian Magazine has just published SEVENTY-FIVE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH PROJECTS YOU CAN CONTRIBUTE TO ONLINE, which will be a nice addition to that list.