This project focuses on understanding people’s awareness of invasive species and how they affect the local environment. Students made an interactive device with an educational purpose that would allow the user to identify if the plant is an invasive species and also extra information about the species will be given. Eventually, people can get a ticket, which is used to promote the local environmental organizations so that more people are aware of their existence. If people are interested, they can join these volunteer activities to remove invasive species, protect native plants, etc.
It was shocking to know that something natural could be harming the environment in its own ways. But at the same time, it was interesting to see how these species could outcompete other native species to survive. Students realize that we humans are responsible for the spread of these species across the world. Ornamental purposes of decorating your garden or transportation or shipping of things from one part of the world to another can also cause the spread of them.
Students made an engagement tool to ask and learn about people’s thoughts on invasive species. This engagement tool made it easier to know how aware people are of these species. The tool was divided into two sections, the “species you know about” and the “species you don’t know about”. These sections had another circular section where people could place the species which they think are harmful to the environment. Students selected 10 invasive species and 10 local species. Then they mixed all species together. People had to pick the boards, see the picture and guess if the plant or animal in the picture is invasive or native and place them in the section where they think the species belonged.
Students conducted twelve online and in-person interviews with the general public and garden shop staff and three expert interviews with specialists from local environment organizations Incredible Edibles, Forres Friends of Woods and Fields, and Wild Things. They summarized two key findings based on the above research.
1. People lack awareness of invasive species. They are aware of some famous invasive species which affect them directly. But they are not aware that the species are affecting the local environment.
2. Environmental organisations are not promoted enough and people don't understand the work they do. When people see volunteers removing invasive species, they think it is bad for the environment.
To increase people’s awareness of local invasive species and introduce environmental organizations to the general public. Students came up with a solution that would focus on both the problems - awareness and promotion of the organization. Students made a tool - called Green Bingo. This tool has two panels - the color panel and the bingo panel. The color panel has information about the plants. They carved the map of Scotland and placed all the plants in there as all the species they have chosen were from Scotland.
Users can pick up a plant from the map area and guess if it is invasive or not. After guessing, they can check on the Bingo if they are correct or not. The Bingo has a bulb that lights up if the plant is invasive, and if it does not light up, it is local.
Users can also scan the colour at the back of each plant on the colour sensor placed on the Colour Panel. Then, the pointer connected to the servo motor will point to the colour the plant has been denoted, and users can read the corresponding plant's information.
At the end of the interaction, users would get a ticket which would let them volunteer at the local organization (students’ stakeholders). These tickets have all the information about the days, timings, and other details.
Green Bingo would be installed in a garden shop, where it would be able to target the right audience, i.e., the people who care about their garden and surroundings.
Future Plans for the Installation
Students tested the installation with different groups of people, including their stakeholders, local citizens, and people who work in the garden shop. Based on their feedback, students summarized two points they can follow up on in the future.
1. The students aim to make the technology easier as the tool will be installed at the shop, it should be easier for the shop staff to maintain and ﬁx it whenever required.
2. The students also would want to attach a screen to the tool for people to view the images and information on it, so that users can zoom in and see the details of the plants clearly which would help them identify the plants accurately.