At the Arboretum and across the globe, volunteers are challenging the notion that science happens behind closed doors. Citizen scientists—individuals who contribute their time and efforts towards observation and data collection—are transforming the nature of scientific discovery through their collaborative efforts with professional researchers. Around the world, citizen scientists work alongside professionals in fields ranging from astronomy to zoology–and are making some major discoveries!
Here at the Arboretum, these’s no shortage of opportunities for those interested in experiencing the living collections through the lens of scientific inquiry. Entering its fourth season of data collection, the Tree Spotters Citizen Science Program trains volunteers to observe the life cycles of 11 species of deciduous trees on the Arboretum’s grounds. Tree Spotter data is submitted to the National Phenology Network and accessed by researchers studying phenology and climate change worldwide!
TreeVersity, an online citizen science initiative, allows visitors to explore the living collections and learn about plants while classifying images from the Arboretum’s Plant Image Database, a collection of over 25,000 stunning botanical photographs. Using the Zooniverse citizen science platform, TreeVersity volunteers will help to improve the search function of this database, allowing better access for scientists, educators, and plant-lovers around the world!
If you’re curious about citizen science, come check out the Tree Spotters and TreeVersity at the MIT Museum’s Citizen Science Fair, February 24th from 1:00-4:00 at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, MA. Visitors will learn about a range of citizen science projects connecting Massachusetts residents with the natural world–on our planet and throughout the galaxy!