Monday, March 14, 2011

Technological in Nature

A few weeks ago, we posted ideas for nature journaling and phenology. If you, your kids or your students are looking for some new spins on citizen science, check out some of these great academic and technological approaches to phenology and nature.

Combining research, technology and fun, many scientists around the world are tapping into kid power to conduct real fieldwork. We listed a few ideas already, and this post from MindShift talks about more of the great collaboration and opportunities that exist for kids and adults interested in getting real science experience through outdoor observations and data-collection.

Another great find is, an online community that allows you to interact with other techie naturalists, see what's been spotted in your area, search by species, and contribute your own observations. Plus, you can keep an online nature journal!

If you have trouble prying the smartphone from your kids' hands, see if you can interest them in SoilWeb, NRCS's Online Soil Survey Browser, a digital soil survey that gives you detailed information about the soil you're standing on. Knowing about the soil around you can help you determine what kinds of plant and animal species to look for. And yes, there's an app for that (available online, on GoogleMaps, or for iPhone or Android).

Another fun site (and smartphone app) is, serving as a platform to harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere. This interactive tool will help you explore and document wildlife, and also use your smartphone (iPhone and Android) to navigate, snap photos, and upload your observations! There are also links to ongoing science research you can contribute to.

The WildLab takes "tweeting" to a whole new level by using mobile technology to enhance birdwatching, allowing you to explore, discover, and share the natural world with your computer or smartphone.

You can also use your phone, computer or other GPS units to speak the "language of location." Groundspeak uses location-based technology to encourage outdoor activity. Check out their sites and resources and visit the Geocaching Blog!

UPDATED: Project BudBurst, the plant phenology site we mentioned a few weeks ago has just announced it has joined NEON, the National Ecological Observatory Network, Inc., to better capture user-collected data online through new tools and improved resources. An enhanced website and user-friendly mobile application are expected to be released by late spring. Read more here! Also, check out this great post from NWF for some updated app ideas!

From nature nut to tech-head, there is something out there for everyone. Matching your family's interests with the right tools and technologies might help you all engage in nature together. Plus, having more options makes it easier to navigate your way through the rainy/sunny/snowy/windy/muddy/melty/chilly fluxes of March in Wisconsin!

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