You don't need an advanced degree in physics or biology to participate in scientific research, just a curiosity about the world around you and an interest in observing, measuring and reporting what you hear and see. The Internet makes it easy these days to take part as an amateur in sophisticated science projects around the world, and now Scientific American is making it even easier for you to find the right one through our new Citizen Science initiative.

Citizen Science kicks off with three exciting projects, with many more to follow. Our featured project is the Quake-Catcher Network (QCN), a collaborative initiative to develop a low-cost, worldwide seismic network with the help of Internet-connected computers and free software developed by researchers at Stanford University and the University of California, Riverside. Another project debuting with the launch of Citizen Science is Nature's Notebook, a national plant and animal phenology observation program created by the USA National Phenology Network. You'll also find NatureMapping, a biodiversity information exchange co-founded by the University of Washington and the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Look for Scientific American to add new projects to our Citizen Science lineup in the coming days and weeks. We'll specify the level of time and other commitments, the intended age group and point of contact for each project. A lot of the projects make use of computers, smart phones and other gadgets you might already have, but don't be afraid to get out there and get your hands dirty!