Learn to identify plants and earn college credit

PlantThumbMichael Hanson is teaching Botany 113 this spring, and has been offered every spring since Hanson first started teaching at Bellevue College in 1999. The class will focus on covering the identification, nomenclature, field study and lab identification of a wide variety of plants and will count towards the laboratory science requirement at Bellevue College. “Students in this course will learn to sight-identify over 150 species of Pacific Northwest native plants. They also learn to identify unknown plants using an identification key… [and] will learn the ecological, anatomical and morphological significance of species interactions and interrelationships relating to pollination, predation, climate and symbiosis.”

Botany 113 will be a hands-on class. Most of the classwork will consist of spending time outdoors and studying native plants. “This class is unique in that we spend almost all our time walking in forests interacting with other forms of life,” Hanson said. It is not necessary to take a prerequisite for this class. However, classes such as Botany 110 or interdisciplinary courses titled Bite Me and Bite Me 2.0 are encouraged if students wish to enhance their learning prior to taking Botany 113.

“Our mental, physical and emotional aspects of our self are stunted by most of our time indoors working, studying, watching television and surfing the Web. This phenomenon has been called Nature Deficit Disorder, and it is particularly showing up in children. Although this is a rigorous academic course, it doesn’t feel intellectually rigorous.”  Hanson believes the learning environment will be relaxing and low on stress due to the fact that students will be walking and talking with friends in a natural environment. “Also, humans learn best when walking. It’s our evolutionary history. … They retain the information I present better because they are physically moving, emotionally relaxed and mentally alert.

“I want students to be able to utilize theoretical and practical scientific knowledge to evaluate the role of native habitats to sustainability in relation to interdependence, interconnectedness, biodiversity and ecosystem integrity. Very few students in this class are majoring in botany-related fields of study, so I’m helping them to deeply observe. I want them to see their natural environments in the hope that they will protect, rather than degrade, the environment regardless of their chosen field of study and eventual career.”