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Backyard Biologist

Division: A- Elementary

NC Essential Standards Alignment: 2.L.1, 3.L.2, 6.L.1, 6.L.2

Event Rules: See 2024 Division A Rule Manual


Teams will be assessed on their knowledge of living organisms that they may encounter in their own backyard. In 2024, the focus will be on trees, plants, and insects. Teams will be required to identify organisms from a provided list and know about the habitat and conditions required for growth of the organisms. (see 2024 Official Specimen List) and know about the habitat and conditions required for growth of the organisms. Additionally, teams must know which organisms are NC state symbols.


Must bring writing instruments. Teams may also bring up to 2 commercially produced field guides and/or 2 1-inch, 3-ring binders with pages in any form, from any source, contained in the rings. (This means 2 guides, or 2 binders, or a guide and a binder). Actual plant & leaf samples are allowed in the binders as long as they are in plastic sheet protectors. No actual insect parts are allowed in the binder. Teams may also bring up to two hand lenses and 1 ruler.

Event Leaders will provide an event with all necessary items, objects, materials, questions, and response sheets for participants to complete exams. Examples include but are not limited to: drawings, scenarios, questions, leaves, bark, seeds, photographs, and specimens.


Points will be awarded for the accuracy of responses. Ties will be broken by the accuracy or quality of responses to questions chosen by the event leader.


Students should collect, identify, and press leaves and plant parts for studying purposes in the fall since the event stations may contain actual plant parts.

Event Resources:

What Tree is That?
Why Do Plants Grow Flowers?
Flora & Fauna of NC – iNaturalist
FREE really good ebook on species of the Southeast
Tree id app – scroll to the bottom of the webpage
Plant Information Center: North Carolina Trees
Plants by Janice VanCleave
The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds
The Teachers Guide- Lesson plans on Plants
Project Learning Tree
Missouri Botanical Garden
Carolina Nature: Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of NC
NC Natural: Wildflowers and Plants of NC
Great series of YouTube videos about leaf identification
LeafSnap – an Apple app that lets you take a picture of a plant and get an identification. Sorry, no Android version yet.
Spotify Playlist of Bird Calls
All About Birds– From Cornell University, bird identification and calls.
Water Conservation and STEM