Collecting Real World Data

Activity Source: 

National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Adapted with permission.

Scientists collect data to understand Earth and how it changes. Quantitative data involves taking measurements, while qualitative data are observations and descriptions of phenomena. When it comes to climate, scientists try to collect as much and as many types of data as possible to be able to analyze how climate is changing and what effects it is having. Because climate affects all areas of the world, collecting this data is a large undertaking. This is where you can help.

Many climate scientists seek help in collecting data through projects that allow any and all individuals to collect and submit data. Data collected in citizen science projects are often in the form of images, but can also include measurements, depending on what scientists need to understand a specific phenomenon. This activity will help you get involved in collecting data through The GLOBE Program, a worldwide community of students, teachers, and lifelong learners. Observations you contribute will be included in the GLOBE database.


  • Phone or tablet with internet access


1. Go to to learn about climate change and some types of data that are collected to understand climate.

2. Go to for information on measurements you can make via The GLOBE Program.

3. Read about each of the GLOBE measurements to find one that interests you or that is most relevant to the place where you live:

  • Clouds
  • Mosquito Habitat Mapper
  • Land Cover
  • Trees
  • Eclipse

4. Download the GLOBE Observer app to a phone or other mobile device. If you are 13 or younger, use the app with a parent or teacher.

5. With adult supervision, go outside and start collecting data!

6. Discuss: How do each of GLOBE’s measurements relate to climate and sustainability?  Which measurement did you choose and why? What data are you helping to collect and for what purpose will it be used? What other data might scientists use to analyze climate change? Explain how these data will help in the understanding of climate change.

Additional Resources

To find more NASAscience projects, go to:

NGSS Connections

Science & Engineering Practices – Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Disciplinary Core Ideas – Weather and Climate; Human Impacts on Earth Systems

Crosscutting Concepts – Patterns; Cause and Effect; Stability and Change

SDG Connections

  • 13: Climate Action
  • 15: Life on Land