AP environmental science explores biodiversity

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Akhil Katuri

“It’s an online social network of people who gather and share biodiversity information and help each other learn about nature,” AP environmental science teacher Jamie Berendt said. “And it’s also a crowdsourced species identification system and a tool for recording organism occurrence.”

Erika Pernis, Staff Reporter

AP Environmental Students have been utilizing the app and social network iNaturalist in class as a way to explore the biodiversity outside their own campus.

“It’s an online social network of people who gather and share biodiversity information and help each other learn about nature,” AP environmental science teacher Jamie Berendt said. “And it’s also a crowdsourced species identification system and a tool for recording organism occurrence.”

For sophomore Jaena Orozco, iNaturalist has been an exciting way to get outdoors and learn.

“iNaturalist is fun to use especially when you’re exploring with friends,” Orozco said. “It helps me want to go outside and take pictures of different kinds of animals and plants and learn the names of them.”

The hands-on aspect of iNaturalist has taught junior McKayla Battey about the biodiversity that she encounters daily.

“Using iNaturalist has given us an interesting and hands-on way of applying the things that we learn in class,” Battey said. “iNaturalist has shown the environment we encounter on a day to day basis is very diverse. By seeing the biodiversity in the environment we encounter every day, it furthers our understanding of the topics we cover in class and gives them a deeper meaning.”

Berendt believes using iNaturalist is an effective and professional way for students
to learn both observational skills and biodiversity in their local environment.

“I would say that this tool helps students learn to use observations as data by how it gives us who, where, when, along with the photo evidence of the organism,” Berendt said. “The observation then becomes peer-reviewed by local scientists, which is a crucial step in any scientific process, before becoming part of a big database to calculate our local biodiversity. It’s a way for students to learn about biodiversity, appreciate our local natural environment, and to be a part of something big.”