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Anyone Can Become a Community Scientist!

Community science is a collaboration between scientists and public volunteers to gather new knowledge about the world. You don't have to be an expert to get involved. All ages can participate, you can do it as frequently as you're able and the information you help collect helps everyone.

Community science can transform research and communities. For example, over the last 10 years, 31,000 volunteers have classified 350,000 images of space! The Science Museum’s 2017 project Throwing Shade mobilized volunteers and partners from around Richmond to evaluate urban heat vulnerability. Data collected by these diligent volunteers helped show that temperatures in the city during a heat wave can vary as much as 16 °F from the coolest to the warmest places.

Three people looking at a tablet screen showing data being collected by an air sensor in the hands of the man to the far right.

What Is RVAir?

Funded by the Institute of the Museum and Library Services, the RVAir project works with community collaborators to help measure air quality in Richmond neighborhoods.

With the support of community partners, measurement of local concentrations of airborne pollution known as particulate matter (PM), will help scientists, residents and policy makers understand how a warming climate impacts Richmond, including the health of residents.

Why Is This Needed?

The National Asthma and Allergy Foundation consistently ranks Richmond as the 12th worst city in the U.S. for asthma sufferers. Why might this be?

Air quality ratings for the entire Richmond area are based on data collected that represents the regional "airshed." We know from studies in other cities that local changes in the environment such as wide streets, traffic volume, close proximity to interstates and the number of trees lining streets can significantly change the amount of pollution in the air we breathe at the hyper-local level. Collecting locally specific air quality samples throughout Richmond can inform home-grown solutions to Richmond's climate resiliency challenge.

Three University of Richmond students standing in a semi-circle looking at tablet screens showing data their sensor is collecting for the RVAir community science program.
A photo of two people looking at a tablet that shows RVAir air quality data collected.
Become a Community Scientist

With collaborative community science projects, you get to be part of the magical journey of science by helping collect important information that will have a positive lasting value.

How Can I Get Involved?

RVAir has wrapped up for 2023, but we encourage you to check back periodically to see if new opportunities are available.

Be sure you don’t miss important Science Museum updates, such as community science opportunities. Sign up for our newsletter to get news sent directly to your inbox. Just scroll to the bottom of this page and enter your email in the newsletter section on the bottom right of the footer.

Looking for Another Community Science Project to Get Involved In?

Visit scistarter.org or zooniverse.org to check out lots of other community science opportunities. There’s something for everyone!

This project was made possible in part by:

Institute of Museum and Library Services MA-20-19-0255-19.

Institute of Museum and Library Services

Other Ways to Get Involved

Whether you are becoming a member, a volunteer or a donor, your support fuels our thriving community.​