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A project of the Chicago Botanic Garden


Setup for Students

Bring real science into your classroom

Engage the next generation of scientists with Budburst

How to Get Started

When you add Budburst to your lesson plan, your students will learn to hone observation skills, interact with (and within) nature, as well as learn to collect, compare, and compile scientific data. To use Budburst with your students, simply create a virtual classroom using Budburst Groups. This allows you to:

  • Upload a classroom avatar

  • Invite students via email or create non-email accounts 

  • View and download your classroom data

Visit the Participating in Groups page for how to create a classroom group and customize the settings.

Choosing Plants and Research Sites

When planning lessons around 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 field) on school grounds, with one or more plant species identified for observation. If students are expected to make repeated observations of a plant, it’s important to select a location that’s convenient to visit on a regular basis. In light of COVID-19, 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

As educators ourselves, we’re very 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. Groups that involve youth participation will automatically be hidden groups. 

Only members that have been invited to the group will be able to find the group

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 guardian-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.

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 let you 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.

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Budburst is a project of the
Chicago Botanic Garden

One of the treasures of the
Forest Preserves of Cook County

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BY-NC-SA 4.0

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