If you're outside with your smartphone, take a picture of the plants and animals you encounter. You'll be helping science.
The free Project Noah
app for iPhones or Android phones helps you become a citizen scientist. You don't need to know what species you're photographing, just snap the picture. The app does the rest of the work, uploading it to Project Noah so scientists and volunteers can identify it. The app also geotags the photo with your GPS location so scientists can build a database of what species are living where.
As their website puts it, the project's goal "is to build the go-to platform for documenting all the world?s organisms and through doing this we hope to develop an effective way to measure Mother Nature?s pulse. By encouraging the mobile masses to document their encounters with nature, we hope to build a powerful force for data collection and an important educational tool for wildlife awareness and preservation."
In addition, there are several interactive features within the app. You can comment on others' photos or help identify the species they snap. You can also take place in challenges to photograph specific species in your area.
If you have a smartphone, download the app and take a hike. It's a pretty good excuse to get outdoors.