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Buds, Leaves & Global Warming

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Research Questions & Overview

How long is the growing season in our schoolyard?
How is the length of the growing season related to climate?

Grade Levels: 1-12
Minimum Field Time: 4 field visits in the spring and 4 in the fall
Project Active: 2004-present 

Phenology Project Resources

Related Research at Harvard Forest:

HF ecologist John O'Keefe is studying how our growing season might be affected by climate change. Dr. O'Keefe is studying these changes locally by measuring and tracking the expansion and opening of buds in the spring, as well as leaf coloration and drop in the autumn (see Phenology Overview and Dr. O'Keefe's long-term dataset: Phenology of Woody Species).

Webcams installed in the Harvard Forest tree canopy by researchers from Harvard and the University of New Hampshire provide above-canopy images of the surrounding forest for phenological studies. The images are updated every 30 minutes.

Schoolyard Research Methods:

Students can participate in this study by measuring and tracking "bud burst" in the spring and/or leaf color change and drop in the fall.

  • Teacher participates in the Summer Institute for Teachers to learn project content and methods. Teachers are provided with project materials.
  • Teacher flags trees in schoolyard or local conservation area and maps the research site.
  • Teacher and students collect data at least 8 times during designated periods in spring and/or fall.
  • Teachers are encouraged to attend one of the fall Data Workshops.
  • Teacher and students provide fall data to the Schoolyard Coordinator (Katharine Hinkle).
  • Data are posted on the Harvard Forest website.
  • Teacher and students may choose to analyze their data and compare it to regional schoolyard data.
  • Teacher and students are encouraged to come meet the scientist at the Harvard Forest.
  • Teachers are encouraged to attend the Spring Workshop.