Public Group Active 6 years, 11 months ago
There are over 1.2 billion specimens in natural history collections around the world, of which 300 million are held in herbaria. The primary function of these collections has been to provide data for taxonomic research and, as most of the data are held in non-electronic format on the physical labels, they have not been available outside of the herbaria. More recently, there has been a drive to digitise the collections to make the data available online to a wider community. As the data have been made accessible, there has been a rapid increase in the diversity of research using the collections, including studies on phenology, climate change, biogeography and evolution. There is potential for the specimens to be used in an even broader range of research, particularly in more diverse fields of study. There is also potential for these specimens to be used more widely in education. This is an area that has been largely unexplored for natural history collections, but the wealth of historical, cultural, social and scientific data held in the specimens could be one of the most exciting new resources for schools.
We are now looking to work with education programmes to form partnerships to find ways to make these data accessible to pupils in schools in Britain for a wide range of the curriculum, not restricted to science. We are developing citizen science tools and we are including education as a driver in the direction of the development, with an aim of creating portals and involving pupils in the creation of the datasets to increase their knowledge and experience of the data.