“You will find something more in woods than in books.” —St. Bernard (1090 – 1153)
For an educational institute like Bryn Mawr College, the quote sends more than just a philosophical message. In an era of technology when even libraries can be virtually accessed off campus through websites and learning takes place online as much as in class, the college decided that campus trees should also get digitized. So to celebrate the end of classes for the semester and get energized for the exams week, Bryn Mawr students participated in an active outdoor project to re-label each of their campus’s trees with a unique QR code.
The idea is to invite people on campus, from students to visitors, to learn more about the trees through the advance of technology. Each campus tree has a label with a Quick Response Code (QR code), scan-able on any smart phone, which will then lead to a web page with detailed information about the tree. Previously, the labels only had the trees’ names on them, and even a tree enthusiast would find it hard to memorize the scientific name of a tree to look up and learn about it later. Now with these QR codes, these Bryn Mawr trees can finally speak for themselves.
“Each tree on campus carries a story and a piece of the college’s history behind it”, says Ed Harman, director of grounds at Bryn Mawr College. “So we think that it is important to also provide students and visitors on campus with a chance to learn about the trees and appreciate them the same way we do our beautiful buildings.” The webpage for each tree linked with the QR code includes not only information about the type of tree and its characteristics, but also a story of how it came to Bryn Mawr. Some of the trees were gifts from a previous class, or a replacement of a class tree. Some are as old as 1900.
The QR code feature is not the first project organized to connect students with the campus trees and landscape at Bryn Mawr. Last year, the college and the students also completed designing a Campus Tree Map, and a tree tour using this map as a guide has been introduced to parents and visitors to Bryn Mawr campus. The college has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Campus USA for these outstanding student services project to promote more active student-tree relationship on college campuses.