Yale NatureWalk: The Blog as a Map

The map on the home page of the Yale NatureWalk

The map on the homepage of the Yale NatureWalk

EE&B 223L Evolution, Functional Traits, and the Tree of Life

Yale NatureWalk ‘grew’ out a a class project. The project lasted over the entirety of the semester. Click here for a short clip about the project.

Students adopted a tree at the beginning of the semester. They:

  • Took pictures of their tree – including detailed images of tree features, artistic images, and pictures of the tree during multiple seasons


  • Researched biological, horticultural, cultural, and historic aspects of the tree
  • Were responsible for a end-of-the-semester final creative project of their choice
  • Participated in learning, researching, and producing/developing, they created resources for students by students

Final projects included

  • A cover of the pop song “American Girl” with the lyrics changed to be about the American Sycamore.
  • A demonstration on how to chemically distill fragrance from an Epaulette tree.
  • A fiddle tune named “Old Beech Leaves” performed live by a student in front of a Weeping Beech tree.

Academic Technologist Alina Nevins designed a website for the project in Drupal.

Students published all their data, images, and final project on the site Nevins developed.

She was asked to create a site with mobile devices in mind:

  • Students can add their tree to the site on location- the site picks up the geocoordinates of your current location from a mobile device. They could also take pictures on location and submit them directly to the site.
  • Since the web site is 100% public, students and visitors to the Yale campus alike can then access the site on a mobile device. site visitors should be able to go out and take the tour in person using their phone or tablet.
  • QR codes next to the trees themselves connect a physical object in the world with reflection and research on the web.
A student demonstrates the use of QR codes to access the Yale NatureWalk site

A student demonstrates the use of QR codes to access the Yale NatureWalk site


  • The site enables student research to become a public service that connects knowledge and place.
  • The site is an outreach tool for Yale students and the community at large.

Students from multiple disciplines were invited to contribute to the site, such as artists, poets, filmmakers, etc. Click here and scroll to the bottom for an example of how students can ‘comment’ on other students’ tree pages.

  • A photography class project was to photograph the trees: ART S138 Introduction to Digital Photography
  • A project in the McDougal Center of the Graduate School was developed to encourage student mindfulness by reconnecting with nature. Participants created artwork or poetry related to the trees.
Student contributed artwork

Student contributed artwork

Future plans include:

Integrating the website into the official Yale University mobile app:

  • Students, their families, and other visitors to Yale can go on the NatureWalk using their mobile devices to explore the campus and learn about the trees on campus.

Developing tours that people can go on to experience the NatureWalk.

Creating a scavenger hunt based on the NatureWalk project.

Publicizing the project and encouraging students from all different disciplines to participate and contribute.

Adding different kinds of flora, fauna, and other types of things to the NatureWalk

The project and site were based on the NaturesPace project at Pace University and the vTree project at Virginia Tech.

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