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Be Purposeful: Contribute to the World One Small Project at a Time

Life does throw us curve balls and there is more and more evidence that you can prepare your brain for some of these mishaps along the way by building up a bit of reserve.

Creepy Staircase

This was one dark, windy, steep, creepy staircase…

Building cognitive reserve can be very rewarding process.   Find a purposeful project and contribute to the world while you fill your well of brain processing power!

I discovered an outlet for my purposeful projects and that is being a Citizen Scientist –  a non-scientist, non-specialists who collects data and adds to the body of scientific knowledge.   There are a ton of projects out there — some easier to participate in than others.   I love the philosophy of one project  the Marine Animal Identification Network — a project tracking seals and reporting information about migration — because it sums it all up:

“In many cases, we learn through the imprecise science of serendipity whereby a matrix of possibilities results in a report: the right person in the right place at the right time knowing the right person to contact.”  How wonderful is it that we all, just by chance, can be that person at the right place at the right time and can contribute to science?

I was surprised at how easily I found projects that require very little investment of time and technology.    All you really need is a smart phone or a computer and  a few extra minutes to participate in some of these projects!  Do a search for citizen science projects in a geographic are or that have to do with an interest.   Love the outdoors?  Check out the projects from the National Wildlife Federation’s listing of projects from backyard birders to butterfly counting to star gazing.    All of these projects ask you to do is observe, record, and report.

Butterfly Resting Ground

This field was full of butterflies saving up energy to take the next step on their journey north. If we had not looked closely, we would have missed them completely!

Are you near the Mississippi River and interested in birds?   Work with the Audubon Society’s Rivers Project Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to  monitor and track birds in the  bottomland forests on the Mississippi River.  Observe, record, report, contribute!

In your reflection

What do you see in your reflection? Be kind….


 How about working with NASA from your own backyard?  NASA has several ongoing citizen science projects going on now and more to come!

There are so many things you can do right now that take so little and give back so much!


Ruth Curran

Ruth's passion and area of intense study is the connection between the brain and daily functioning. Ruth writes about brain healthy living and created a series of a photo-based thinking puzzles, games, and Apps – Ruth’s primary focus is on using games and “play” to inspire players to imagine, use strategies, and focus as a path to better thinking, better functioning, and better quality of life. Ruth believes that everyone - no matter the stage of life - has the power to harness and use neuroplasticity to live a richer, deeper, and more fully engaged life. Instagram: captcruncher

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Kathy @ SMART Living 365.commm

Thursday 27th of March 2014

Hi Ruth! I LOVE brain health too and learning why people do what they do! And I had never heard of this program before so thanks for sharing it! I will definitely be checking it out. ~Kathy

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