Can Nature and Technology Be Friends?
Use the Internet to Answer Questions, Find Nature Nearby
Nature and Social Media Apps
- Leafsnap is an electronic field guide that uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves.
- Peaks allows you to take a photo of mountains and then identify the name, location and altitude of the peaks you've captured.
- Audubon Birds Pro is another field guide that includes high quality pictures, in-depth descriptions, calls and sightings for more than 800+ species of birds. This is one of many apps designed specifically for birding.
- MyNature Animals Tracks includes a searchable database of track and scat, along with photos, range maps, and sound files of vocalizations for each animal.
- Yonder is a social media app that allows outdoor enthusiasts to share digital images and video of their adventures. Use it for ideas for your next local or far-flung outdoor adventure.
- NatureFind helps you "find nature nearby" by sharing places and events where you can experience nature.
- AllTrails helps you find trails nearby, and then allows you to track and navigate offline.
- MapMyHike enables you to use the built-in GPS of your mobile device to record the duration, distance, pace and elevation of your hike and track your route on an interactive map, then share the details of your hike with family and friends through social media.
- Nature Passport "contains missions that encourage children to learn, play, and explore in natural spaces where they live and learn. The missions can be done at school, in after-school programs, or with friends and families in backyards and parks. The passport missions are designed to be simple and engaging, to be suitable for urban, suburban, and rural areas, and to give participants practice with science, art, and math skills."
- Star Walk is an interactive astronomy guide that offers "augmented skygazing." It shows celestial objects in the exact positions on the sky above you and provides detailed information about them.
Participate in Citizen Science
- iNaturalist: Use this app to record, share, and learn more about plants and animals you encounter in nature. Scientists and land managers use the data to monitor changes in biodiversity. Browse or search projects for something that interests you.
- Project Noah: This app is a "tool to explore and document wildlife" by helping people identify plants and animals and then collecting data from them about where certain species are located. The project has interesting specific missions and is supported by National Geographic.
- eBird: Birders simply enter when, where, and how they went birding; then fill out a checklist of all the birds seen and heard during the outing.
- Budburst: This national network of citizen scientists monitors plants as the seasons change. All you need to do to participate is register, learn how to observe, select a plant, go outside and observe, then submit your observation.
Model the Hybrid Mind
When using technology while in nature, the digital technologies you use should allow an easy transition from a digital focus back to the multi-sensory world. As the adult, make sure you model switching back and forth between the two states of consciousness, using technology to draw you back into nature and to enhance rather than block your human senses.
For more ideas on how to help your kids fall in love with nature, check out Scott Sampson's new book How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature. It's full of fabulous tips and activities for kids of all different ages.
Pin for Later
What are your favorite ways to use technology in nature?
- Citizen Science: 14 Ways Your Family Can Explore and Document Wildlife in Your Own Backyard
- Gifts that Encourage a Child's Sense of Wonder About Nature
- How to Get Your Kids to Play Outside
- 30 Ways to Enjoy 30 Minutes in Nature with Your Kids
- 13 Benefits of Spending Time Outside
- Kids and Nature: ideas and resources for connecting your child to nature
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