65 interactive plaques with QR readers currently adorn the University of Central Florida as part of an Arboretum project intended to increase plant education on campus.
The venture is spearheaded by Rafael Pares, a student at UCF studying Emerging Media. He began the project almost three years ago, and has successfully catalogued almost 200 plants on campus. Now, when students scan the barcodes they are directed to the Plants Map website where they are able to access relevant plant information such as botanical and common names, growing details, and the Taxonomic classification. There is even a section where users can write comments—a feature that allows community members to share further knowledge on plants growing in the Central Florida region.
For Landscape and Natural Resources, the QR plaques are a huge step forward in helping them obtain the status of “Campus Accredited Arboretum.” However, for Pares, the project signifies something that is perhaps even more important: the collaboration of people living in a digital culture.
“Seeing, touching, smelling, and experiencing the plants themselves offers a unique interactive experience for visual learners” Pares said. “It’s an interactivity that you can’t always get from reading a book or brochure. The fact that students can experience these plants through all the seasons at all times is really intimate.”
Each day more and more of these plaques are emerging, and the Arboretum eventually hopes to have 400 of them ranging all over campus. In the meantime, interested students can look for them in busy areas including, but not limited to the student union, arboretum, and reflection pond. For more information about Plants Map and the University collection, see the links below.