Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Trees are Greening Up as I write this....

Take a look outside in most of  our region and you will see that the trees are beginning to leaf out...one by one....

You know what that means, Buds, Leaves and Global Warming Teachers!

If you haven't already, get your students outside as soon as possible to track leaf emergence on your study trees.

We are excitedly collecting spring data on our trees. We had a surprise last week, pictured in these attachments. A beaver felled the crab apple tree #18. The study leaves were out so the team measured them and recorded on the data sheet but I guess this will be the last year for that tree! We have not seen the beaver but the tree was standing the week before. 

Photo and comments from Jane Lucia, Williston Northampton School 

Here is what the Phenocams are showing:

From the Northeast (Reading, Ma.)

What phenological changes can you see on any of these trees between
March 8th and April 26th?

Southwestern Massachusetts (Springfield)

Mid Atlantic Region (25 miles from Washington DC): 

North Carolina:

What are things looking like near your school???

Please send us photos and notes from your field site and/or school location so we can better see where buds are bursting and leaves are emerging.

Email photos and comments to Pamela Snow at psnow@fas.harvard.edu

To search for canopy images from throughout North America: 

Go to the Phenocam website at:https://phenocam.sr.unh.edu/webcam

For more about tracking Budburst through The Harvard Forest Schoolyard Ecology program:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Teachers Steal the Show at Spring Workshop

Schoolyard Ecology Teachers Took Center Stage at Our Spring Workshop for Teachers on March 31st at Harvard Forest

Beginning with introductions, teachers had so much to contribute and update on...we ran over well over the time I had allocated in the agenda.  I could have cut folks off sooner, but it was clear that the entire learning community of classroom teachers, environmental educators and scientists was all ears to hear what each teacher had to share.

Hemlock and Buds groups each met in breakout groups before heading outside.

Into the Woods

Teachers actively contributed to field discussions as well.  Scientists allowed the teachers to lead the focus of the discussion with their many questions and comments about field protocols, seasonal changes, physiology, etc.


Teacher Presentations

The afternoon was highlighted  by teachers and naturalists formally presenting the way they are engaging children in field ecology projects.

J.R. Briggs Elementary teacher, Katherine Bennett, and Austin Preparatory School teacher, Maria Blewitt each shared the ways they are deepening students' understanding of the science of Phenology.  Both teachers have contributed to the Buds, Leaves and Global Warming study over several years. Both also host web cameras called "Phenocams" on the roofs of their schools to track the greenup and green down of the tree canopy near their schools.  Kate shared some of the impressive array of educational resources that she has helped develop for the Project Budburst webpages. 

 Kate shared some of the impressive array of educational resources that
she helped to develop for the Project
BudBurst webpages.

Kate collaborated with Phenocam scientist, Andrew Richardson, along with Project Budburst coordinator, Sandra Henderson and team to develop these in depth, colorful activities and lesson plans that help students to understand the science of Phenology.

Maria Blewitt shared the step by step process she used in graphing the Phenocam data provided by the Phenocam at her school in Reading, Ma.    

Mass Audubon Educators, Sally Farrow and Erin Pitkin, then updated us on how they are helping students of all abilities engage in both the Vernal Pool and Phenology studies at Drumlin Farm and Lowell schools.  Sally showed us a variety of graphs she is sharing with students that tell the story of the hydrology of the vernal pools and ponds at Drumlin farm where over 5,000 students have participated in the the Harvard Forest Schoolyard vernal pool  study over 8 years.


Erin Pitkin, in her first year working with the Schoolyard Vernal Pool and phenology studies, shared a set of visual resources she developed to allow a diverse range of learners to access the scientific protocol.

A number of schools provide student "Eco Monitors" who regularly collect data for Harvard Forest Schoolyard Ecology projects sited at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, Ma.  Erin showed how she is adapting and creating tools for students of diverse abilities to participate in this work.

Holyoke Catholic High School Teacher, Lise Letellier lead the charge with her impressive and comprehensive telling of her 5 year journey through Schoolyard Ecology.  See my previous blog entry for more on that presentation along with the related links below.

Survey Comments from Workshop Participants: 

  • All of the presentations were well done! I am excited to take the great ideas and implement them into our program.
  • all of the teacher presentations were excellent.
  • teacher talk time was sooo helpful! Great discussion about what else to keep track of since yearly change is not significant enough to graph. So great to learn about phenology and phenocam resources,
  •  All the presentations helpful and presented new information and inspiration which will benefit our programs.
  • Kernals of gold nugget in each and all of them!
  • Lise gives me hope that I, too, can have my students tackle data!
  • The opportunity to meet and speak with the other teachers and hear the presentations gives me hope and inspiration and definitely renews my passion.
  • both the walk and the teacher presentations definitely renewed my passion.  I hope to eventually get to the point where I can contribute to the discussions and presentation.
  • Today's presentations were mostly applicable to all protocol and made new resources accessible and offered ways they can help us teach the standards. 

To see teacher presentation slides and hear audio on Adobe Connect, go to: 

To access PDF documents of teacher presentations, go to:

Bennett,K.Taking Phenology Education to the Next Level.pdf

Blewitt,M.Using the Phenocam Website with Your Students.pdf

Letellier, L. Five Years of Data Presentation.pdf

Farrow,Pitkin. Eco. Monitoring for All Learners.pdf

To access the complete Survey Monkey Spring workshop evaluation, go to:

To follow up on any questions or comments about this Blog post or Harvard Forest Schoolyard Ecology, email:

 Pamela Snow

Or add your comment on this blog below... 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Give this Woman a Presidential Award Please!

 Holyoke Catholic High School Teacher, Lise Letellier wowed us with her 5 year journey with the Buds, Leaves, and Global Warming study at the Spring Workshop for Teachers last week! 

 Lise took us through her experience engaging High School students at all levels in collecting field data, representing and understanding  project data.  She showed what she was able to do with students , year by year for her first 5 years of leading this project.  

 Throughout this presentation, we could see the importance and relevance of Lise's educational goals for her students, and recognized the complexities of school life and ecological studies that provided challenges along the way to fully reaching those goals.  

Lise -We celebrate your success this year even more now that you laid out the 5 year process for us! 

Comments from other Schoolyard teachers included: 

  • The introduction of more teacher presentations and especially Lise's presentation was informative, useful, and totally motivating. 

  • Lise gives me hope that I, too, can have my students tackle data! 

Lise has passed the state level screening for a Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST)

Awaiting word at the national level...

To see Lise's slides and audio from her Spring Workshop presentation, go to the 1st presentation at:

To see samples of student work and associated overview, directions, and rubric  related to this presentation,find these 9 documents under Buds, Leaves and Global Warming heading beginning with Letellier. 2016.

Related Blog Post:  student graphs blog

To see Lise's  lesson plan on the national LTER Digital Library, go to: