Project BudBurst: Get outside with a purpose

I’ve had a few readers suggest getting involved in Project BudBurst. I’d never heard of it until recently, but after looking into it a bit more I can see several reasons to get involved.

  1. It’s a great excuse to get you and your kids out for a weekly walk.
  2. Your kids get to become little scientists, they collect data. Real data.  And they learn that science isn’t that scary–it’s actually fun!
  3. The data actually gets used by scientists and educators, and they can see how their contributions help.
  4. It’s a good way to get your kids accustomed to making observations.

Projects like this are important because scientists can’t be everywhere at once. In order to investigate some of today’s most pressing questions, which are often global in nature, scientists are relying more and more on help from citizen scientists across the globe. The ability to gather and manage data on this scale has only been possible in the past decade or so, giving people like us the opportunity to help answer previously inaccessible questions.

So, what can we do?… scientists need data collectors.  Enter:  your kid.

What Project Budburst wants you to do:

  1. Monitor plants in your area as the seasons change.
  2. Make careful observations of these plants and their various phases. There’s even a section for kids (called BudBurst Buddies) to help them identify plants and submit reports on what they see.
  3. Submit your data so that scientists can use it to learn more about changes in climate locally, regionally, and nationally.

Think of it as the Farmer’s Almanac, only happening everywhere at once, and really accurate.

Ways to get involved:

  1. Regular Observer: When your plant is active, ideally you would make observations about 3 times a week, but it looks like once a week is fine. By doing so, you will be able to recognize when your plant is getting close to reaching one of the phenological stages such as first leaf, full leaf, or first flower (don’t worry, the website helps you ID these phases).
  2. Single report: If you can’t commit to watching a plant during the entire growing season you can still share information on plants you see on vacation or out on a hike.
  3. Special Projects: For example March 20 to April 30 (2012) is the Cherry Blossom Blitz where you can contribute by observing your local cherry trees.

Wow, there’s even a BudBurst app, unfortunately it’s only for Android.

4 Comments so far

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  1. Definitely going to check this out!

  2. Sarah

    What a lovely idea! I will certainly look into BudBurst! With the snow finally melting away and the birds chirping, outside has been our main play area over the last week or no. My little Oliver isn’t quite walking yet, making for some muddy adventures, but BRING ON SPRING!!

  3. Morning C.

    Thanks for putting this out there Lindsey! I didn’t know about the Android app. Making reports is definitely easier on the go. Once we get home, it’s usually a naptime-feeding-diaper-changing bustle of activity.

    Also, for other citizen scientist projects geared towards the older crowd (but accessible for middle school and high schoolers!) can be found on Zooinverse. Most projects are either too labor intensive for computers or not possible yet, and also count on people to help generate data sets for scientists to better understand the world around us. My favorite is helping gather climate data based on historical ship’s logs!

    • Morning C – Thanks for the additional link! I can’t believe how many citizen scientist projects there are in the area of space. Amazing!


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

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