Science is all around us! For this year’s Science Festival, COSI invites you to celebrate that science and even contribute to scientific research by participating in Ohio’s very own BioBlitz!

What is a BioBlitz? It is a way for our community to work together to find as many species as possible in Ohio. COSI is inviting individuals, families, schools, and organizations to participate by simply snapping photos of plants and animals in the wild. Using the iNaturalist platform, our observations will be tracked and made available to naturalists and researchers. Let’s explore Ohio’s biodiversity!

How do I participate in the BioBlitz?

  1. Download the free app, iNaturalist, and create a profile.
  2. Observe a plant or animal in the wild: Using the app, take a clear, focused photo (or a few) of the organism. Upload it as an observation, and congrats – you have made your first observation!
  3. Learn from the community – naturalists and other community members will help you to identify the organism.

Make as many observations as you want. We will be keeping track to see how many different species we can identify as a community during the BioBlitz!


Still have questions?

Watch COSI Director of Science Content Dr. Marci Howdyshell explain what Citizen Science is, share stories of scientists who use iNaturalist to inform their research, and provide a primer on using the iNaturalist platform so that you will be ready to start observing!


BioBlitz FAQs

There are a lot of great places to find organisms: try your backyard, the sidewalk, a trail, or even a metro park. Look around for trees, birds, mushrooms, insects and weeds!

These are examples of “captive” or “cultivated” species. You can still upload them to iNaturalist but you should mark them as “captive or cultivated” in the observation. That way, scientists will know that they aren’t growing there naturally. This will be called a “casual observation” in iNaturalist and won’t count toward our BioBlitz. Nonetheless, it is perfectly fine to practice making observations with your cultivated and captive species!

Not at all! Anyone over the age of 13 can create a profile on iNaturalist. Families with children under 13 can work together to capture photos under one profile. Once you post an image, it will be made public on iNaturalist. Experts, naturalists, scientists, and hobbyists can then help you to identify the species you found (be sure to check back to iNaturalist later to see if your image was identified!)

In order for observations to count for the BioBlitz stats, they must be identified. We would love to have your help identifying species found during our BioBlitz.
Here’s how:
On the computer: Log in to and click “Identify” on the top gray bar. You can then filter the images you’re looking at: Click “Filters” (to the right of the “Go” button), then “More Filters,” and type in our Project: “COSI Science Festival BioBlitz 2020.”  This will provide you with all of the observations within our project, and you can suggest an identification.
On the app: Join our project so that you can identify species within the project. Under the upper left hand side dropdown, select “Projects.” Tap the magnifying glass to search for our project: “COSI Science Festival BioBlitz 2022.” Within that project, you can click on any observation to suggest an identification. On the observation page, you will see photos taken of the organism. Click the comment button (in the middle) to add an ID suggestion.

Your suggestion may agree or disagree with other identifications. That’s okay – this is how iNaturalist works! When enough people agree on an identification, it will be considered Research Grade.

We would like to know if you’re a naturalist helping us out. If you are a naturalist or local expert and are dedicating your time during our BioBlitz, please reach out to Director of Science Content Marci Howdyshell

Yes! And we have created materials to help you do so, which will vary depending on what grade level you teach. Click here to view the Educator’s Guide. We hope you will be able to use iNaturalist to help your students see and appreciate the biodiversity of their own community.

Here’s how to make your observations count:

1.     Take good pictures! Make sure the organism is in focus. Consider taking a few pictures from different angles to help with identification.
2.     Make sure that the date, time, and location are tracked. You can add these manually (you will need to be specific) or just allow your phone to track them. Observations will only count if they were collected in Ohio during the BioBlitz event.
3.     Make sure you are taking pictures of plants and animals in the wild – not captive (your pet) or cultivated (your garden). It’s okay to practice with those observations, but they should be marked “captive/cultivated” and will be considered casual observations on the platform.
4.     Please do not take pictures of humans for iNaturalist; remember that these images go public immediately and will be flagged.

You can follow our project on iNaturalist!

On the computer: You can find the project page at

On the app: Under the upper left hand side dropdown, select “Projects.” Tap the magnifying glass to search for our project: “COSI Science Festival BioBlitz 2021.” Within that project, you can click “Join” to keep up-to-date on the project.

On the project page, you’ll be able to see our current number of observations, number of different species, and people participating. We will also have a leaderboard showing users who have the most observations and the most species!![/accordion_item]

[accordion_item title=”What is Citizen Science?”]Citizen Science is a way for EVERYONE to participate in scientific research! iNaturalist is just one of the many programs and projects that give the public an opportunity to contribute to research projects.

There are a lot of different ways to get involved in Citizen Science. Check out the websites below for more Citizen Science projects:

A BioBlitz is a species identification event. The goal of a BioBlitz is to identify as many species as possible in a specified region over a certain amount of time.

Once a species is identified by a certain number of people, it will be considered “Research Grade.” These observations are available to any scientists looking to use them. iNaturalist also keeps an ongoing list of scientific publications and news articles that have cited iNaturalist in their work.

We are happy to answer them! Send your question to the COSI Department of Science Content and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.