Lunder New Naturalists

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

How do you effectively connect students to nature without excluding technology?

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens partnered with us to prototype, design, build, and iterate an online platform that supports three deep learning experiences in science and social studies that leverage technology in ways that increase students’ engagement and connections to nature.

Using open source Drupal 7 contributed and custom modules, the platform supports students completing the experiences in person with classmates, and online with their state teammates from other schools across Maine. Data entry and mapping, social networking, personal profiles, video conferencing, and resource sharing are components central to the learning system.


The experience

  • Virtual Plant Collection: Students hone their observation and botany skills by locating trees and wildflowers, using field guides and identification apps, and collecting additional habitat and geographic data. Online, they create authentic virtual plant specimen sheets. All specimen sheets are available to the community to browse or map with a custom search, allowing students to make comparisons and draw conclusions about the geography and ecology of Maine.
  • TR’s Trail: Theodore Roosevelt’s life provides a compelling historical narrative that connects all aspects of the program. Students access TR’s journals online, decipher these primary source documents, and draw their own conclusions about his legacy as a conservationist. The site hosts a sliding display of students’ rich multimedia products.
  • Challenge Project: The website guides students through five Challenge phases to complete self-directed biodiversity and conservation challenges in their local communities. The platform supports students connecting online with their state teammates to assist with the project plan and to provide resources.
Lunder New Naturalists curriculum guide
Click to flip through the Lunder New Naturalists curriculum guide.