The new Flinders Eco Experience at Matthew Flinders Anglican College in Buderim is inviting visitors to explore the school’s rainforest-fringed campus via a new self-guided walk that links nature with technology.
The Eco Experience weaves a one kilometres path through the 22-hectare College campus and invites visitors to use their mobile device, such as a mobile phone or iPad, to explore and experience the flora and fauna along the way.
Known as ‘tree caching’, the technology enables users to scan their mobile devices over the QR Codes (that look like black and white bar codes) placed at key points along the path.
Once the QR code is scanned at the base of a tree, for example, the scan directs the user to a website, video or other digital source to learn more about that tree, and interesting facts about that tree species.
The technology has various applications around the world, such as to guide people through art galleries and tourist sites.
Tree caching is a cost-effective way to support and encourage people to explore the outdoors while learning about native wildlife and environmental sustainability.
The Flinders Eco Experience was created as a whole-of-College collaboration, including the Flinders Capital Works Manager, Mr Rocco Perugini and students and staff of the Environment Club, Science Club and IT departments, as well as some parents.
Mentors from the local community included Tracey McMahon, Plant Research Technician Genecology Research Centre and Dr Rob Lamont, Conservation Geneticist and Molecular Ecologist, both from the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Flinders teacher Sheree Bell, who facilitates the Flinders Environment Club, says visitors will discover that there are 40 species of birds identified on the College’s 22-hectare Buderim property, with possums, kangaroos and other marsupials also frequenting the local area.
“Some people may not be aware that the College has native and exotic species of animal and plant life, which is why this project invites them to explore further and learn along the way,” Sheree said.
“There is also a creek running through our campus that has permanent water in some areas and a large catchment, so if visitors look closely they may spot the occasional freshwater turtle,” she said.
“The walk takes us through some beautiful shaded areas, as some of the trees are mature and quite tall, with pretty orchids and twisted vines scattered through them.
“There are also trees with fruits that attract birds and other animals, and there are nesting boxes attached to some trees that our students have placed for the animals to use as shelter.”
Year 9 Student Charlie McMahon helped create the project, and explains it is a way for people to appreciate and learn about the environment from a different perspective.
“We want people to get to know the forest and land surrounding our school property because it’s so special,” Charlie said.
“With the new QR Codes, visitors can learn about the plants and animals that live here in an easy, in-depth and educational way,” he said.
“We want this Eco Experience to be a resource for teaching and nature appreciation while also inviting people outdoors to experience the beauty and sense of peace.
“There are small bridges and seats along the way to encourage people and whole classes of students to undertake fieldwork or to simply sit and ponder the wonders of nature.
“What’s more, the Eco Experience track is a source of inspiration for our student artists and writers, as it provides a tranquil and relaxing setting for them to work.”
Find out more about the Flinders Eco Experience here.