For Educators

Over the next several months, we will be making changes to the Budburst website. Please note, changes made during fall and spring school semesters will be minor. The first of these changes is that Budburst ‘Classrooms’ are now called ‘Groups’. Teacher accounts are now ‘manager’ accounts, and student accounts are now ‘member’ accounts. These changes increase flexibility and expand the organizations that participate in Budburst. 

In response to the COVID-19 emergency and need for remote learning and collaboration tools, Groups also added new functionality for selecting species and locations and adding members, either by creating member accounts or inviting participants via email. For details, see Budburst Groups.

Budburst has rushed these features in response to the COVID-19 emergency; help make them more useful to you and others by reporting problems, providing input, and sending questions to This document will be updated regularly so please check back. In the meantime, thank you for your patience and understanding.


Budburst is a citizen science program focused on understanding plant phenophase timing and its response to environmental change. You and your students/visitors can join the national Budburst network of scientists, students, teachers, and volunteers monitoring plants as the seasons change, and together help us understand how plants respond to climate change.

Budburst has many resources to help you integrate phenology observations into a variety of educational settings. These include the Budburst Groups (previously ‘Classrooms’) feature and professional development opportunities. We also provide information on Budburst's alignment with national science education standards for grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12, as well as possible uses for Budburst in higher and informal education. Finally, we have developed curriculum resources for Grades 3-5 to facilitate the integration of Budburst phenology observations into your classroom during hybrid or remote learning. The curriculum is housed here.

Using Budburst in Your Classroom

Budburst brings real science into your classroom: Hone observation skills; note changes over time; compare, draw, count, & manipulate data. To use Budburst with your students, you can create a virtual classroom using Budburst Groups. Budburst Groups allows you to:

  • Upload a classroom avatar
  • Allow any observation type or restrict to specific observation types (phenology,  pollinator, or special projects)
  • Allow any species at any site or restrict to specific species and sites
  • Invite students via email or create non-email accounts (see Privacy concerns below)
  • View and download your classroom data

See the Groups page for how to create a classroom and customize the settings.

Choosing Plants and Research Sites

When planning lessons utilizing Budburst, some logistical issues surrounding outdoor observations should be considered. It’s important to consider where students can make observations and which plants are easily identifiable and accessible. 


Budburst plant pages contain information on identification and “Did You Know?” facts. Browse Budburst plants in your state or plants of interest to a local Budburst partner. Budburst plants include common, easily identifiable species such as dandelions in order to facilitate the participation of younger students. 

Research Sites

It might be helpful to choose a location (e.g. a garden or open prairie) on the school grounds, with one or more plant species identified for observation. If students are expected to make repeated observations of a plant, it is important to select a location that is convenient to visit on a regular basis. In light of the current Covid-19 crisis, you may choose to allow students to collect data on plants at a location of their choosing, including a backyard or nearby park.

Privacy Questions and Concerns

I am concerned about student privacy.  If students are making observations in their backyard or near their home, how are they protected from the public?

Teachers need to be aware that the general public can see the location of an observation; however, the general public is NOT able to see individual usernames or associated Group information for submitted observations. 

If you are still concerned about location data being publicly available, consider having students gather data near the schoolyard or at a park near their homes where they could walk to make their observations.

Another option for teachers is sending a Budburst Group invitation to each student using parent-approved emails. That puts the decision to use home addresses back into the hands of the parents - where it should be

Educators may also choose to create anonymous (non-email) accounts for use by their students, particularly if they are under 13  years old. See the Budburst Groups and Privacy Policy pages for more information.

Citizen Science Academy

Continuing Professional Development Courses

Citizen Science Academy (CSA) courses use Budburst as a case study for learning about citizen science as a field, how to use citizen science effectively in a variety of educational settings, and how to create compelling activities and opportunities to engage with the natural world.  

Some courses also include other citizen science programs such as: eBird, Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS), FrogWatch USA, and Picture Post. Citizen Science Academy courses allow you to participate in a community of practice dedicated to engaging youth and adults in science. CSA courses are geared toward formal and informal educators, but are open to all.