Decoding NAture

...a data gateway for educational DNA barcoding

About us

The Old Malthouse is owned by the Cothill Educational Trust ( and is run in affiliation with the Natural History Museum ( Situated on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, on the Isle of Purbeck, The Old Malthouse provides the perfect setting for Tree School.

Through Tree School, children and other non-experts are able to actively participate in international DNA barcoding campaigns. The students collaborate with Natural History Museum researchers to collect scientifically relevant data in this emerging field. With the help of Natural History Museum scientists, students will use a combination of traditional methods and sophisticated modern genetics to identify a tree of their choice, prepare a herbarium voucher and generate a DNA barcode. Their data forms part of an international scientific endeavour to DNA barcode life on Earth.

The Natural History Museum looks after 70 million specimens and carries out world-class research on those specimens. Its aim is to build our knowledge of biological and geological diversity, and to understand the processes that generate such diversity. Knowing this will help scientists across the world address the major challenges of our time, such as biodiversity loss, climate change, responsible exploitation of natural resources and protection of people and their vital needs.

The Tree School experience will inspire children to take greater interest in science as they participate in this pioneering and exciting scientific research.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith