BotCamp 2009: Learning botany with Web 2.0 tools

Release date: 
August 26, 2009

picture of BotCamp participants

Photo by Stephen McIntyre

Eighteen students from the local community participated in BotCamp 2009 on July 24 and 25 on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

BotCamp, part of BOT 2.0, is an innovative program featuring a curriculum that weaves together botany, environmental conservation, the use of social technologies and metadata literacy. The program is designed to recruit, educate and retain nontraditional students in the study of botanical science. BOT 2.0 is funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation and it is led by Dr. Jane Greenberg, SILS professor and director of the Metadata Research Center at SILS, and Dr. Alan Weakley, curator of the UNC Herbarium, a department of the North Carolina Botanical Garden.

The campers were from North Carolina Alamance Community College, North Carolina State University’s Woman in Science program, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina Agricultural &Technological State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Photo of Bot CampThe students visited the North Carolina Botanical Garden; hiked in Battle Park; logged names of plants they had eaten via a series of meals; learned about plant identification, folksonomies and metadata; and took part a number of competitions—such as discovering the most interesting tree bark and describing a plant using the most characters (e.g., metadata).

“We had number of hands-on activities, encouraging students to observe plant characteristics and approach plant identification like biologists,” said Greenberg. “The use of Web2.0 technology, primarily Facebook and Flickr, allowed for student collaboration prior to and after BotCamp.”

photo of BotCamp participantsCampers were also introduced to the field of library and information science and took a tour of the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at UNC at Chapel Hill. David Romito, UNC Library’s assistant biology librarian, joined the group to share some treasures from the Biology Library collection.

Team members from SILS included Evelyn Daniel, associate dean for Academic Affairs; Phillip M. Edwards, instructor; Claudia Gollop, associate professor; Jacob Kramer-Duffield, doctoral student; and David Woodbury, SILS alumnus and North Carolina State University Library fellow. Other partners included Stephen Seiberling from the UNC Herbarium, and Michael Shoffner from the Renaissance Computing Institute.

“We were also fortunate to have the talent and participation of Michael Kunz, conservation ecologist, North Carolina Botanical Garden; Misty Buchanan from the Natural Heritage Program; and Laura Gadd from the Plant Conservation Program, N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,” said Greenberg. “Michael led students in the Mason Farm Hike; Misty talked to students about rare and endangered plants, plant identification and professional careers in the field; and Laura enlightened campers about plant conservation and ginseng industry challenges." Weakley also noted "BotCamp promotes and allows further exploration of an exciting link between botany and the field of information and library science."

The funding for this project is from the National Science Foundation with additional funding from Dr. Greenberg’s Francis Carroll McColl Term professorship and her 2008 Frederick G. Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Technology sponsored by OCLC.

Click here for additional information about last year's Bot Camp.

For more photos from the camp, see the camper's Flickr site.