For my third citizen science project that I began in March, I picked Project Budburst, and I highly recommend this for homeschoolers with young children because it’s super easy.
The researchers at Project Budburst would like you to pick a plant in your area that you can visit often and record the changes it makes through the seasons. You will then create an account on the their website and input the data you find.
If you visit their website, you’ll find easy directions, and there is a database of plants where you’ll probably find your plant. (There are certain plants that they would prefer you to observe, so be sure to check out that list.) Once you find your plant, you can download a chart that will tell you exactly what changes you need to look for with a space to record the date. You can pick a tree, shrub, flower…whatever you want!
I picked a flowering dogwood tree that is growing in my front yard. During this spring season, it’s been changing rapidly, so I’ve been checking it almost everyday! Here you can see the chart I’m using to record the date of my observations.
I’m going to be recording my observations year-round, but they also give you an opportunity to do a single report (that is, a one-time observation: click here for that report), so if you are facilitating a co-op class, that would be a great choice.
The study of the timing of how a plant or animal changes or moves with the seasons is called phenology. As you work on your budburst project, there are many pages on their website that will teach you about phenology, why it’s important, and how that’s teaching scientists about climate change. This page has a short video that I showed to my boys.
If you try out Project Budburst, I hope you’ll have fun and tell us about your experience!
SHELLI BOND PABIS is home | school | life magazine’s senior editor. She writes about her family’s homeschooling journey at www.mamaofletters.com.