There’s an App for that
Watching kids discover the world around them is one of the greatest joys adults share. Outdoor education is one of the many activities that bring groups to Casey. Our location is unique in that we are surrounded by beach, wetlands, and forest. These offer opportunities for guided exploration and discovery.
One of the things that most outdoor education group leaders have in common is their desire for children to “unplug” and leave their mobile devices at home. Their reasoning is quite sound – observe the wonders of the world around you. But what if those mobile devices could enhance the learning experience? How about some of these ideas:
· When coming to Casey for Birding, download Birdsnap. This is an app developed by Columbia University, University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. According to the iTunes description: “Birdsnap uses visual recognition technology to identify birds in images you upload.” Based on your location and the time of year, Birdsnap knows which birds are present, and can use this to produce a custom guide to the local birds and to improve the automatic identification results. It covers 500 of the most common North American bird species.
· It is amazing how many astronomy apps are available, ranging from very basic to very professional. Going outside in the evening after dinner can add to the magic of camp. Casey is away from the urban light pollution and on clear nights offers lots of stargazing opportunities. A simple app like SkyView provides plenty of functionality to satisfy your curiosity about what you are viewing in the night sky.
· Interested in joining a community of naturalists? Check out iNaturalist. This app will use your device’s GPS to show you animals and plants others have observed and posted. It allows you to record your own photos and observations and share them with fellow naturalists using the app. Unsure of the species, no problem! The app connects with experts who will identify the organisms you observe. Imagine the excitement your group will experience by trying to find as many species as possible!
Depending on the focus of your group’s retreat or camp, bringing technology along can be an asset. It may take a little research and advanced planning to find just the right app for your event, but it will pay off in the end. Just remember, when not involved with the formal outdoor education events, the kids can still “unplug”!