Natural history collections contain billions of specimens, documenting life on earth over hundreds of years. Thanks to digitization efforts, such as NSF's Advancing Digitization for Biological Collections Program, many specimens and associated data are now discoverable online and freely downloadable. Ready accessibility to this tremendous resource means that in order for researchers, educators, and policy makers to work with collections data, they must be familiar with the invaluable specimens themselves as well as the images, transcriptions, georeferences, annotations, three-dimensional scans and other digital information that accompanies specimens.
BLUE (Biodiversity Literacy in Undergraduate Education; biodiversityliteracy.com) is a NSF Research Coordination Network in Undergraduate Biology. Through BLUE, we aim to prepare the next generation of college graduates to be skilled in quantitative competencies such as data mining, cleaning, interpretation, and familiarity with database management. Natural history collections provide a unique opportunity to teach these skills within higher level concepts such as the iterative process of science, data literacy, critical thinking, quantitative biology, communication in the sciences, and biodiversity informatics. These skills can be integrated within the context of exploring cross-disciplinary topics including climate change, spread of disease, conservation biology, interspecific interactions and associations, and invasive species. The place-based capacity of collections data combined with the social and societal relevance of biodiversity can also serve a role in creating inclusive, culturally relevant and socially conscious educational materials that engage a broad audience in biodiversity science.
BLUE brings together experts in biodiversity science, data science, and education to create resources and develop effective strategies for biodiversity and data literacy education. We hope that this poster session will give us the opportunity to discuss ways BioQuest participants can join the BLUE network, participate in BLUE activities, and share and disseminate resources through the growing BLUE network.
Cite this work
Researchers should cite this work as follows:
Phillips, M., Linton, D., Ellwood, L., Douglas, N., White, L., Monfils, A. (2019). Biodiversity Literacy in Undergraduate Education (BLUE): Building standards and resources for using collections data in the classroom. Evolution of Data in the Classroom: From Data to Data Science (SW 2019), QUBES Educational Resources. doi:10.25334/WYMZ-1441