By: Blonde Two
If you think your kids know more about science than you, you’re probably right. The good news is that there are plenty of citizen science projects out there for the whole family to enjoy. So during this latest UK lockdown we have a citizen science project for you that might just end up being your favourite outdoor learning activity with the kids (or indeed without them). I have certainly be having fun with it!
What is citizen science?
Citizen science gives you the opportunity to play a small part in large projects, and in that way make a difference. Because I love being outdoors so much, my favourites involve identifying and recording elements of the natural environment. The Treezilla app is a great example of this.
The Monster Map of Trees
The Treezilla project has set out to map the UK’s trees. It is already one of the biggest collections of tree data in the world but on a smaller scale offers a fabulous opportunity for you and your family to understand, not just the tree species in your area, but also their environmental value (including monetary value) particularly in terms of carbon capture and storage.
How to use Treezilla
- Download the Treezilla app and set up your account
- Select your tree experience level (it doesn’t matter what it is and the app will help you decide)
- Download the tree identification guide PDF (or I love the Woodland Trust’s tree ID app)
- Put a tape measure in your pocket
- Go to a tree (hint – this is the part that will get your kids outside)
- Identify your tree (with some trees this is easier in spring but look for leaves and fruits below the tree in winter)
- Measure the circumference of your tree’s trunk and enter this information
- Add a photo of your tree
- Add your comments and save your record
- Once you’ve saved your record you can find out more about your tree (see below)
Here’s an example for you. The Ginkgo Biloba tree outside on our pavement has a circumference of 34 cm, really unusual leaves, and a lovely autumn colour. It’s also quite nice to hug.
Exploring your local trees
The other way you can use Treezilla is to explore the trees in your local (or holiday) area. As well as being a great excuse to get everybody outside, this helps keep the Monster Map of Trees up to date. You might even find yourself adopting a tree and looking out for its welfare.
- Open the Treezilla map
- Use the locate tool to find your area
- Search for a tree
- Visit that tree
- Check the tree’s circumference is still right (trees do grow you know)
- Check out the tree’s value to the environment
Here’s an example for you:
Near to Torquay seafront there’s a beautiful old oak tree. I’ve always enjoyed looking at it but it now has even more of my admiration. This tree removes 117kg of carbon dioxide a year, has stored 10,131kg or CO2 to date, and has a leaf area of 1,154 m².
So there we have it. The kids are about to be off school for the Christmas break. There are trees out there waiting to be mapped. What are you waiting for? I can’t think of a better excuse to Get Outside (and sneak in a bit of learning in the process)!