QR codes planted in BG parks PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL RYAN, Sentinel Garden Editor   
Thursday, 13 June 2013 08:28
A QR code is seen at Simpson Garden Park in Bowling Green. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Pardon the usage, but gardening really is as old as dirt. What's new includes the modern technology "QR codes" being used at both Simpson Garden Park and Wintergarden Nature Preserve. WATCH VIDEO
For those of us stuck in the dark ages, QR codes, short for quick response codes, are those funny squares which smart phones and similar devices can scan and link the users to a Web site. Most people are familiar with the standard bar code series of lines used on all products in stores. The QR codes will likely be as common in the near future.
Chris Gajewicz, natural resources coordinator for Bowling Green Parks and Recreation, is very excited about the use of the codes in the parks.
"Not everyone has a smart phone now, but they will in five years," Gajewicz said. "This is a giant teaching tool."
Assisting in the project is Kyler Klann, a student volunteer who is a senior at Bowling Green State University.
Klann, of Dearborn Heights, Mich., is studying environmental policy. She is creating many of the codes which can be found in the two parks.
Gajewicz said, "We have a multitude of plants in the garden and the most common question we get is, 'What is it?'"
The second most asked question is "Where can I get it?"
The QR codes help address both those questions.
He stated that the codes will not only identify the plants or trees, but direct people to where they can be purchased locally.
With thousands of plants and varieties and cultivars, it would be impossible to have a code on each plant. The first areas to use the codes is the healing garden and the native plant area at Simpson and the tree trail at Wintergarden.
Klann and Gajewicz estimate the code will appear on roughly 100 plants in the healing garden, 40 in the natives and 30 on the tree trail.
"We don't want the park to be overwhelmed with signs," Gajewicz said.
Klann touted the appeal of the codes to her generation.
"We may not read a full story, but we could scan a code linking us to a video which we would watch and learn," she said.
Kyler Klann, studet volunteer for Bowling Green City Parks, demonstrates the use of a QR using a cell phone.
Gajewicz added they have used the codes for some time for people looking for rental information for facilities but the new codes will be a great informational tool for park visitors.
"People can educate themselves beyond human interaction, especially when park staff members are not available," he said.
Once created the code will transport the user to the Web site encoded by Klann at creation.
Things can change on Web sites and the code will take the user to the newest information at that site.
For example, sometimes botanical names may change. A park sign identifying that plant would have the old botanical name; while the QR code will take them to the Web site which will have the latest information and name for what they are viewing.
In addition to the codes for specific items, there will also be colored codes for more generic or other interesting bits of information. For example, there could be reference to a plant used to make poisons in a Shakespeare work.
The different colors will each represent a different type of information.
Klann said once she finds the appropriate Web site, she copies the URL for that Web site and transfers that to a program which generates the QR code. It is copied, laminated and then ready to put into the garden.
"Gardening is so non-technology, however technology is helping to teach people much more than ever before," Gajewicz said.
He said the idea will be beneficial for a multitude of visitors as they are helped to better understand plants, connect to additional information and better enjoy their visit. Parents can use the codes to help teach their children.
The basics of nature have not changed - plants still grow in soil and require things such as sun, water and nutrients. However, how we learn about gardens and their contents is advancing with new technology.
A short video featuring the QR codes at the park can be found at www.sent-trib.com.
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 June 2013 13:25

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