Science Opportunities for Teens

  • Zooniverse
  • The Zooniverse is one of the largest online citizen science projects. It began as “Galaxy Zoo,” where ordinary people could sit down and help identify different galaxies by answering simple questions about its shape, number of arms, etc. This was later updated in Galaxy Zoo 2 (the current version). Not long after that, several new projects were also added to the Zooniverse: Mergers, in which you try to manipulate a simulation to match the image of two colliding galaxies; Supernovae, in which you compare pictures to identify exploding stars; and Solar Stormwatch, which looks for things like sunspots and solar flares. All of these projects provide real data to scientists, and can lead to new discoveries (Green Pea galaxies, for instance). For a way to do real science, and still have fun, the Zooniverse is one of the best projects out there.

  • Citizen Sky
  • Unlike the Zooniverse project, Citizen Sky takes an in-depth look at one star: Epsilon Aurigae. It is a variable star, meaning that its brightness changes. It undergoes these “eclipses” every 27.1 years, and they last around 600 days. The Citizen Sky project observes the star, in an attempt to see what causes these eclipses, and why they occur when they do.

  • GLOBE at Night
  • Globe at Night is yet another astronomy citizen science project. This one works to monitor levels of light pollution, particularly in urban areas. Participants around the world find compare their night sky to the magnitude charts provided on the sight, and report their observations. There is also a smartphone application that allows you to report your observations even more easily.

  • The Open Dinosaur Project
  • There’s a lot of awesome stuff happening in space research right now, but the astronomers aren’t the only scientists with more data then they can handle. That’s where the Open Dinosaur Project comes in. Right now, the project is creating a comprehensive database of dinosaur limb measurements. This will allow paleontologists to look more closely at the function of these limbs, as well as answer evolutionary questions.

  • [email protected]
  • If botany is your thing, then this project from the UK might be for you. [email protected] is a project attempting to digitize and document the plant collections of the UK’s museums. Like the others, it is entirely online, and provides important data to scientists worldwide.

  • Fold.It
  • For those who are more biology, chemistry, or medicine inclined, there is a web game that allows participants to try folding their own proteins. This fun application goes towards figuring out how proteins fold, how they degenerate, and how they can cause – or cure – various diseases.

  • Expanding Your Horizons Network
  • This organization and website is dedicated to promoting careers in science and mathematics for young women. On the site itself, you can play games, get in touch with women who work in the field(s) you’re interested in, watch interviews with them. If you live in the U.S., you can also find a conference near you where you can talk in person with women in science, math, and engineering as well as take part in a ton of hands-on activities and projects.

Volunteer, Internship, and Science Programs by State

Online citizen science projects are great if you want to help with research. But that’s far from the only way to get involved with science. If you feel you’ve learned a lot through your own research, and want to share that knowledge with others, than volunteer work is one of the best options out there. Look up natural history or science museums, planetariums, or science centers near you; many have volunteer programs. Even if that’s not an option, there may also be community science organizations around. And, if even those don’t exist, you can always start your own. Below are some links to various museums and organizations as well as some specific teen programs, to help you get started.

Anchorage Museum Teen Science Guide Volunteers

Chabot Space & Science Center Teen Volunteer and Internship Program
J. Craig Venter Institute: Discover Genomics! Science Education Program
Rancho La Brea Tar Pits (Los Angeles)
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

Denver Museum Teen Science Scholars

The Field Museum: Teen Programs (Chicago)
Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago)
Adler Planetarium (Chicago)
Shedd Aquarium (Chicago)

J. Craig Venter Institute: Discover Genomics! Science Education Program
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, National Space Club Scholars Program

New York
American Museum of Natural History

North Carolina
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center: Counselor and Teen Volunteer Opportunities
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

High Desert Museum

Carnegie Science Center’s Teen Volunteer Program

Museum of Nature & Science, Dallas–Discovery Corps
The Houston Museum of Natural Science

Washington D.C.
Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Wyoming Dinosaur Center

Multiple locations
NASA Educational Opportunities
Expanding Your Horizons in Science and Mathematics


Mad Science
Science Olympiad
FIRST Robotics
Project Exploration

This is a slightly expanded version of the list found on Scientifica Phenomena. Used by permission.

This list is a work in progress, so check back for new opportunities. See something we’re missing? Let us know!

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