Introducing NFN Labs

We have always wanted to make Notes from Nature a place where our amazing volunteers can try out new activities, as long as they have high scientific value.  In order to try out some of those activities, and find out what you think about them, we are excited to launch a new section of Notes from Nature called “NFN Labs”.  The “Labs” idea lets us be experimental, while we remain committed to our core mission of helping to unlock natural history data, one record at a time.

NFN Labs is a place to try new kinds of expeditions.  For example, we might have a labs expedition where instead of transcribing most of specimen label, we might have just one field that is needed.  Or maybe we ask for help getting latitude and longitude information based on textual descriptions of localities where a specimen was collected.  Or, as in the case of our first NFN Labs expedition, we might ask you to answer a question or two about the specimen itself, such as whether it has flowers or fruits.   We also want to use the NFN Labs idea to test new features and get feedback.  In the first Labs expedition, we are also launching our first mini-course.  Mini-courses provide extra content on a topic that shows up after performing a certain number of transcriptions – in this case after 5 transcription.  The topic of the first mini-course covers why phenology is important to study.

After we have tested out some labs ideas, they may move into more full “rotation” as part of Notes from Nature.  We really hope some of these new experiments are cool and fun to do, while also keeping the same high bar of having immediate value for scientific use.   We always appreciate (and crave) feedback.  What do you think of our first NFN Lab?


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