Plucking mangoes, tamarind, oranges, or any other fruits.
Using the branches to climb to the summit.
Dancing around it or playing hide and seek.
We all have a strong association with trees, and it starts with activities like the above, which we do as children. Apart from the adventures and socializing, trees provide an excellent opportunity for children to observe the biodiversity around them. They can watch birds, insects, reptiles, and other wildlife in or around trees.
While there is a bond between children and trees, it is primarily superficial; a detailed understanding of the significance of trees is missing. Though the children are taught about the basics of the trees, due to the pedagogy, the knowledge about the trees remains very basic.
While academic learning about trees and their botany is essential, children must appreciate the significance of trees in our lives and their role in the ecosystem. If only they understand this, children can become advocates for environmental protection and conservation. Research indicates that children who play outside will likely protect nature when they become young adults.
Less Boring-ify Trees is Delhi based initiative that leverages technology to create awareness about different trees, which is engaging and fun. We caught up with Vedant Kumar, who has developed this solution that educates us, especially children, about trees in a creative way.
It was only after the pandemic that young Vedant, a student of Class 11 at St. Columbas School, got a computer and learned about website development, video editing, etc., and shortly after, started work on Less Boringify Trees (LBT).
Below are the edited excerpts of our conversation; you can watch the video on YouTube for the entire discussion.
How did you get the idea to start something about children’s curiosity toward nature?
I’m living in Delhi, and there was a time when I could see many trees uprooted in my neighborhood because of the rains, winds, etc. I wanted to develop something to fix this problem but couldn’t find a solution.
As I explored the attributes of trees, I realized I don’t particularly appreciate learning about trees because the typical learning process is boring. The school books mainly focus on the botany of trees, plants, shrubs, etc., which might be relevant from an academic perspective but is not very interesting.
Instead, I am more inclined to know different aspects of trees, like their ayurvedic properties, mythological significance, and other fun facts about trees. When I asked other people, even they agreed to that. I started Less Boringfy Trees to ensure this problem no longer happens.
How will you solve this problem?
Less Boringify Trees presents information about trees, including the boring aspects, creatively so it is interactive and fun. In addition, the information would also contain Trees’ ayurvedic properties, mythological significance, and fun elements, which are often ignored.
We have so much historical significance in India associated with trees like Peepal, Banyan, etc. Therefore, presenting this information will be more engaging for the typical visitor.
Tell us more about your solution.
Our initiative is to partner with schools and institutions and place QR codes on the trees. Visitors can scan the QR code from their mobile phones, redirecting them to the tree profile on the Less Boringify Trees platform.
On the tree profile, you can see a video, which through visual storytelling, will make you learn the boring element about the trees but in a more interesting manner. We have also added sections like their IUCH status, which will tell if they fall under vulnerable species or least concern etc. Then we have reference articles from the Indian biodiversity portal that categorize all the trees and nature. You can visit their articles also and learn even further if you want
Are you also facilitating and putting up those QR codes
It is a straightforward process where we have to print the QR codes, laminate them, and then tie them around the trees with the help of a string. We won’t use glue or nails because that can damage the tree. We don’t want to harm the Trees for our benefit.
For putting the Tree Profile, you are creating your database.
Yes, we are compiling accurate information from trusted sources because displaying incorrect information can lead to other issues. For example, if someone misapplies the ayurvedic properties of the tree, it might become a medical concern.
How many tree profiles have you created thus far?
We have compiled information for over 50 trees, but not all are on a website. We are making a template for the trees that is very interactive and engages the audience, post which we will update them.
What kind of response are you seeing?
We have put it up in 5 schools; the initial response is not good because the students are mostly unaware of this solution. They are used to coming to school and don’t even bother looking at the trees. We have to change their mentality.
Many schools have a pretty abundant nature within the campus, especially in Delhi. In my school, we have so many species of trees, but teenagers are not interested in that. We’re starting to educate them also through camps, and even teachers are encouraging children to go to the trees and explore the solution.
Do schools allow mobile phones on their campuses?
Most schools, including government schools, allow mobile phones, especially for senior students.
Why don’t you want to expand to other places?
Teenagers should be taught about nature first because they can appreciate nature more when they grow up. Research has also shown that children who spend more time in nature protect it more. Moreover, when we start with the children, we can also test our solution, like how the Less Boringify Trees website works and the level of interaction and creativity needed.
Adults don’t learn information that easily compared to teenagers. Older people are used to information that is not very creative. Teenagers require more and more interactions and creativity in websites, etc., so we’re starting from a lower age group. Subsequently, we will target the above age groups as well.
Is it your hobby project, or do you have any long-term plans?
It was a hobby project when I started, but it’s more than that now. We have more than 60 members, teenagers worldwide, who are helping us assimilate information and feedback. I’m also talking with other schools apart from my school St. Columbus. We want to focus on the Delhi region before venturing to other areas.
Do you plan to make money or keep it only about spreading awareness?
I think we will mainly focus on spreading information although we’ll have more ventures like this which will aim for profit making because after all we need some revenue and we can’t always do it for free.
What was your parent’s response when you said that you wanted to get into this and start this
They were okay with it but would prefer I spend more time studying.
The Less Boringify Trees is an interesting name, so tell us more about it
I wanted the name to be a bit catchy. People are used to simple names like Google and Amazon, but I liked the name that catches your attention.
Less Boringify Trees even has a meaning which is about making trees less boring. Most people cannot pronounce it correctly, but the idea is to make it catchy.
Watch the entire conversation on Change Started YouTube Channel.