Using Fun Technology in Nature With Kids
While many people like to disconnect from technology in nature, I like to find fun ways to integrate the two, especially with my son. Here are some iPhone applications I use while outdoors (I believe some of these apps are for other cell phones too)
Gowalla and Foursquare: These apps use your phone’s GPS feature to “check-in” at different locations to earn points, badges, and virtual items while posting your activity to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. I like to use them to check-in at parks, drop virtual items for people to find, and post pictures for people to see how nice these outdoor locations can be.
Traveler’s Quest: A treasure map game that uses Google maps so you can find virtual treasures that people have buried. I like to bury
items deep in state parks and then post to Facebook telling people
where to find them, hoping they will enjoy nature in the process.
Flook: This app lets you take pictures from your cell phone and
create virtual cards with information about the place and a map to itslocation. Fun to use for out of the way places where you have taken interesting pictures.
Project NOAH: I just read about this one and it sounds really
interesting. You take pictures of local wildlife and add notes about
habitat and behavior. The app uses the GPS location and uploads the picture to the NOAH database where different environmental
organizations can learn about wildlife all over the country. They
even have specific missions you can start such as taking pictures of
squirrels, mushrooms, and ladybugs to help scientists learn more about them.
Geocaching: this has become a very popular game in the last 10
years. With any GPS device, you can go on a real treasure hunt.
People have buried small items such as pillboxes with information
inside. They post the coordinates online and people go and find the
geocaches. When they open them, they write a little note and then
return them to their locations or move them someplace else for more people to find. Many caches are buried in wooded areas and other outdoor locations. This is a great way for children to learn about nature while searching for “treasures.”