Teaching Plants (2017)
Graduation research project of the Media Technology MSc programme, for which I developed and tested a novel approach to environmental education, using an interactive talking plant.
Physically experiencing nature is found by many studies to be an important component of effective environmental education. Through experiencing nature, people tend to develop a higher positive emotional valuation of and a higher sense of responsibility for nature. If these experiential and emotional factors are combined with cognitive knowledge about nature and environmental action strategies, they can influence people's thought and behavior to become more pro-environmental.
For this reason, I developed a system of sensors and machine learning algorithms that allows people to interact directly with living plants to receive information about the parts of the plant that they are interacting with. By touching, smelling and looking at the plant, people can engage in a playful interactive dialogue that aims to teach them about the plant and its environment. This enables a form of experiential learning that integrates cognitive and affective domains in a free-choice learning setting.
In a scientific study at Hortus Botanicus botanical garden in Leiden, I compared my interactive plant to a setup where visitors of the botanic garden received the educational content through a tablet device. Results indicate that the interactive plant leads to higher learning rates and is more effective at motivating a broader group of visitors to learn about plants.
Paper of my research can be found here.
Concept, development & research
Sanne van Gammeren
Hanneke Jelles (Hortus Botanicus), for making my research at Hortus possible.
Rogier van Vugt (Hortus Botanicus), for being a never ending source of plant knowledge.
Isabelle van Loen (Davinci college) and Tom Jilink (Bonaventura college), for making it possible to research with their students.