Introduction: Encouraging Teachers to Input Their BudBurst Data
I love Project BudBurst and had my own elementary education students observe seasonal events in dogwood trees for several semesters, but never got around to submitting their data on the BudBurst website. So I think I can suggest several ways for BudBurst to encourage more "follow through".
(The drawing shown is copyright-free and comes from USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 664.)
Step 1: Are You Sure That's a Dogwood?
One reason a teacher may not "follow through" by uploading their data is lack of confidence in identifying plants and phenophases (seasonal events). One idea to address this would be for BudBurst to emulate Project Noah (http://www.projectnoah.org/), which encourages the uploading of photos recording participants' observations and the giving of feedback on their identifications.
Step 2: Is It Blooming Yet?
Project BudBurst wants participants who adopt dogwoods to report the date on which "the first flowers are fully open." But what does that mean for a dogwood? How many people realize that the so-called "dogwood flowers" are actually clusters of much smaller true flowers?
I think teachers need clear images of what to look for and need to be able to verify that their students are ready to pinpoint the date of "First Flowers".
(This image is not copyrighted and is from Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. 1995. Northeast wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. Northeast National Technical Center, Chester.)
Step 3: Can We Schedule a Wake-up Call?
Once our dogwood trees lost all their leaves in the Fall, enthusiasm for daily observations quickly waned. I think Project BudBurst might get more data returned if it could encourage interaction with schools throughout the year. Maybe they could emulate some of the strategies that Journey North's Tulip Study (http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/tulips/AboutSpring.html) uses to keep classes engaged, through ideas for classroom activities, opportunities to pair with schools in different regions, and "updates" from across the country.
(This image is not copyrighted and is from W.D. Brush @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.)
Step 4: If Dogwood Trees Could Only Talk!
Did you realize that Curiosity, the newest Mars rover, has her own Facebook Fan Page (https://www.facebook.com/MarsCuriosity)? So what if our dogwoods had their own Facebook Page, their own Twitter account, or their own Pinterest Board? I, for one, would be glad to volunteer to Project BudBurst to serve as a "Page Admin."
(This image is not copyrighted, but is credited to Milton M. Bryan @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.)