Exploring nature through a Smartphone
Children are familiar with Smartphone technology and are quite comfortable using their applications. Natural Lands Trust (NLT) has developed a Smartphone application to bridge kids' love of technology with learning about nature and natural systems. The application uses the SCVNGR free app for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. It offers kids ages 6-10 an interactive way to explore the Stroud Preserve in East Bradford Township. Players are presented with a series of "challenges," including questions based on signs at the preserve and fun activities. Those who complete all ten challenges can receive a free t-shirt.
While the lessons that can be learned from completing the challenges are valuable, SCVNGR can be effective as simply a way to entice kids to get outside. Depending on how much extra exploring you do, it will take about an hour. Once kids are out on the preserve, they may get distracted and start running up and down a hill, looking for bugs, or watching a bee on a flower. According to NLT, research has proven that unstructured exploration like this is a great way to learn. If you run out of time to complete the challenges, you can always come back and finish another time.
A parent's guide is available for downloading with instructions on how to download the app and use it during a visit to the Preserve.
NLT asks that you "make sure the kids don't move on to Angry Birds when they're done with the challenges. The walk back to the car is an opportunity to just take in the surroundings and have fun. This means you, too!"
Additional information can be obtained from Natural Lands Trust.