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About ToL treehouses

What are treehouses?

Treehouses are ToL pages that are being developed to become a resource for people who are interested in learning about biology and biodiversity. Treehouses showcase ToL learning materials aimed at children and the young at heart, created by K-16 teachers and students, lifelong learners, or scientists. The information found on treehouses complements the scientific core content presented on ToL branch pages, leaf pages, other articles and notes.

Our vision is to cooperatively develop many treehouses that reflect the interests and experiences of our contributors. Treehouses will be areas where teachers and learners can access and contribute learning materials and discuss questions and ideas with each other as well as expert scientists. People will be able to view school and individual projects as well as enjoy exploring and building their knowledge about organisms and their phylogeny.

Visit treehouses to see the treehouses we have right now.

What type of information will I find in a treehouse?

Treehouses feature a diverse array of learning materials from the following categories: Investigations, Stories, Art and Culture, Fun and Games, Biographies, and Teacher Resources. Treehouses can be used to publish a scientific investigation, to write a story about exploring the butterflies in your backyard, or to share a game for learning about one of the Earth's organisms.

Who reviews ToL treehouses?

Treehouses that are submitted to the ToL for publication are reviewed by Lisa Schwartz, the ToL Learning Materials Editor, before they are published on the ToL. Treehouses that are created by students as part of a classroom project must first be reviewed by the teacher before they are submitted to the ToL Learning Materials Editor. In the future we plan to have a system where visitors to the ToL can add comments and begin discussions on treehouse pages, thereby encouraging peer review of treehouses.

Become a treehouse builder

Communicating with others and producing work for online publication provides the exciting and motivating real world experience of contributing to a community of science practitioners. Treehouses provide a place for teachers and learners to share their learning experiences and products with others as treehouse builders. We have some fun activities we are developing to help you study biodiversity and become a treehouse builder.

Visit the Treehouse Builders page to find out more about becoming a treehouse builder, and try out the treehouse editor for creating treehouse web pages before you register. Teachers can now register classrooms of students of all ages as treehouse builders, but kids under 18 cannot yet register on their own.

Plans for treehouses

As more ToL treehouses become available, we will provide tools that will make it easy for people to find them. For example, there will be a search facility on the treehouses page, which will allow ToL visitors to specifically search for materials in treehouses

A number of other features are planned, including:

Like other ToL pages, treehouses will be generated dynamically from relevant materials in the ToL Database. This will allow treehouse visitors to customize the display of treehouses according to their own preferences (see Customizing Your View of the Tree of Life).

Contact the ToL with questions about treehouses

Send an email with your questions to Lisa Schwartz, ToL Learning Materials Editor, at

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phylogenetic biology