Schnabel, Andrew , Smith, Kenneth A. .
The Botany Blog Project: A New Way to Teach Plant Morphology, Diversity, and Identification on an Urban, Commuter Campus.
A large proportion of undergraduates in the United States live in and attend universities in cities and rarely have the opportunity to experience nature outside of their day-to-day urban setting. As a result, students are unfamiliar with the biological diversity around them. Many university campuses, however, contain a wealth of plant diversity in formal gardens and semi-natural areas along rivers or in small wooded areas. The botany blog project was originally devised to enliven the topics of plant morphology, taxonomy, and identification by transforming a traditional assignment (collection of herbarium specimens) into a project of more lasting value for the IU South Bend community that documents plant diversity within the boundaries of the campus. First used during a plant systematics course in Fall 2006, the project required each student to document information about 25 plants within assigned sections of the campus. For each weblog entry, students keyed the plant to species, recorded its GPS location, and composed short descriptions of its vegetative and reproductive morphology. Students were given access to a digital camera so that photos of their plants could be uploaded along with written information. For 12 of the plants, students also made traditional herbarium sheets. The weblog was open to the general public, who could comment but were not able to enter new species. Students were also encouraged to comment on their classmates’ entries. By publishing technical information on the web, we asked our scientists-in-training to begin to serve both their professional peers and the general public, a skill of great value in an age where scientists must participate in debates over vital matters of public policy. In later semesters, the site will continue to be updated by new generations of students, allowing them a view into the cumulative nature of scientific research.
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1 - Indiana University South Bend, Department of Biological Sciences, 1700 Mishawaka Ave., South Bend, IN, 46634, USA
2 - Indiana University South Bend, Department of English, 1700 Mishawaka Ave., South Bend, IN, 46634, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Location: Boulevard A/Hilton
Date: Monday, July 9th, 2007
Time: 10:30 AM