Using Budburst In Your Classroom

In response to the Co-Vid 19 emergency and increased need for remote learning tools, Budburst Classrooms has added new functionality, providing flexibility in selecting species and locations.  In addition, teachers can choose to either create student accounts or invite participants via email.  For details, please review Choosing Features for Your Classroom.

Budburst has RUSHED these features in response to the Co-Vid 19 emergency; help make them useful to you and others by reporting problems, providing input, and sending questions to This document will be updated regularly so please check back!

Budburst brings real science into your classroom: Hone observation skills; note changes over time; compare, draw, count, & manipulate data. There are many ways Budburst can enhance science education in your teaching situation. Using Budburst is as easy as one, two, three, and four!

  • Create your own account,
  • Create your classroom: add plants, locations, student accounts,
  • Report your observations, and
  • Explore your data.  

Follow these steps to get started! 

Register to Create Your Account

Participation in Budburst begins with registration. By setting up an account, registered users have access to their own Budburst account dashboards where they can:

  • Manage their site(s) and the plants they plan to observe
  • Report observations, and
  • View/download their submitted data.

In addition, a specialized classroom tool helps educators implement Budburst for each unique instructional situation. The classroom function gives educators the ability to:

  • Create a “Classroom” for use by a group or class. 
  • Set up anonymous “student accounts” within a classroom - particularly important for students under the age of 13 years. Teachers conveniently manage all of their classrooms under their own account. A teacher can have multiple online “classrooms” with multiple student accounts.
  • Specific observation plants can be identified using a 'nickname' when included within each “classroom.” If multiple classrooms are observing plants at the same site, the teacher can easily duplicate that information to one or more other classrooms.

Separate Accounts for Students
Teachers working with students older than 13 years old (see our policies statement) may choose to have students register and create their own accounts, letting them record their site information and observations on their own. This allows students to observe plants at sites of particular interest to them, such as at their home or at nearby parks and natural places. It also facilitates comparison between plants at different types of sites. Note that, in this situation, teachers will not have direct access to the personal accounts of their students.

Create Your Budburst Classroom

Create a Budburst classroom when any of these conditions exist:

  • Your students are younger than 13 years.
  • You require data on specific plants (as with a research garden).
  • You have multiple people using the student accounts (volunteers or staff at a nature center, for example).

The video - Create a Budburst Classroom (also, below) - walks through the process: Create the classroom, add plants and locations, and create student accounts. 

When planning lessons incorporating Budburst into your classroom instruction, some logistical issues surrounding outdoor observations should be considered. For example, it’s important to consider where to have students make observations (i.e., site location) and which plant(s) is best suited for students’ study. Budburst offers a variety of tools and resources to help teachers and informal educators customize their students’ participation based on specific educational goals.

Your Locations
Budburst requires basic information on the location of the plant being studied (e.g., site name, address OR latitude/longitude) in support of further analysis of the plant’s response to the environment. Each “Location,” once entered, becomes a quick-pick option within your Budburst account. 

Elementary school teachers typically choose a location (e.g. a garden or open prairie) on the school grounds, with one or more plant species identified for observation. For students to make repeated observations of their plant, it is important to select a location that is convenient to visit on a regular basis and within easy walking distance of the classroom. 

Your Plants
Budburst plant pages contain information on identification, “Did You Know?” facts, and downloadable report forms for One-time and Life-cycle observations. Browse Budburst plants in your state or for plants of interest to a local Budburst partner.  You could have your students create a “Top Ten List” for their own school yard.  

Your Data
Observational data collected through your Budburst classroom can be downloaded in both Excel and CSV formats separately.  Or, download with all Budburst data - available from the DATA menu. Search and filter the data as needed or download by year. 

Make Observations

The central element of Budburst involves student observation of the timing of annual events (e.g., bud burst, first leaf, first flower, first ripe fruit). Reporting those observations provides important data on how plants respond to climate changes in your area.  

Post to Budburst Classroom:  This short video provides step-by-step instructions on how students post an observation to their Budburst Classroom.

Budburst observations can be made using either of two protocols, thus providing flexibility for your curriculum.  Please note: Specific projects - such as Budburst Nativars - may have unique data collection protocols. These are summarized on the project page. 

  • The One-time Observation protocol allows participants to make a status-based observation of a plant at a single point in time, identifying the current phenophase status of a study plant and the date of the observation. This is the most popular method of reporting observations. 
  • The Life-cycle Observation protocol is a little more involved, requiring participants to watch their plant over a growing season in order to note the dates when the plant reaches each specific phenophase.

    With the Life-cycle Observation protocol, students learn which phenophases are to be observed and when, and then they watch for and record the dates of these phenophase events. Checking a plant periodically is not time-consuming, but committing to do so through the year requires some coordination. 

Reporting your observation and uploading a photograph of your observation may be done via hand-held device or by computer.  Printable report forms for field observations may be downloaded below or from each plant’s resource page.  Carry these field reports back to the classroom for data entry into the website.

Please note: A Budburst project may have its own field report form.  Check the project-specific protocols and resources on the Budburst project page. 

Wildflowers and Herbs - Life-Cycle Form; One-Time Form 

Deciduous Trees and Shrubs -  Life-Cycle Form; One-Time Form 

Conifer Trees and Shrubs - Life-Cycle Form; One-Time Form 

Evergreen Trees and Shrubs - Life-Cycle Form; One-Time Form 

Grasses - Life-Cycle Form; One-Time Form  


Explore the Data

Observations can be reported immediately from the field using handheld devices or tablets with students logging in using their student accounts.

Once data are entered, they are immediately accessible from your Budburst account dashboard, including those from student accounts. These data are searchable and may be downloaded in a variety of file formats. Elementary school teachers typically use these data to help their students create simple graphs showing the timing of phenophase events for their study plant(s).

For more advanced classes, teachers or students may access data collected by the Budburst community (found under the Data menu) and download observations from participants across the country. These data can be used, for example, to compare your students’ observations with those made by other participants in other locations or other years.