Thursday, March 8, 2012

Spring Ahead

This weekend, we'll observe Daylight Savings Time by moving our clocks ahead.  For me this is usually the true signal of spring.  We've had unseasonably warm weather over the last month here in NC.  In some ways it feels like spring came earlier than usual.

Tonight I welcome spring with a cool app that surfaced in my email.  It is called iNaturalist.
I was hooked right away. Let me explain why.

Last week, my class found a little froggie while we were outside simulating the effects of weathering, erosion, and deposition.  Why is it the biggest boys are always the ones who are the most squeamish?  Well, fortunately for that boy I had my iPod outside to document the work we were doing and so I assigned him the job of taking pictures from a safe distance.

With a simple app, we can load those pics to iNaturalist to document our find.  What's more, there are built-in features that enable you to identify the organism and collaborate with others to improve your identification.
Within minutes of uploading the photo, I had a response from another user that led to a more specific classification.  Account options allow you to choose to receive notifications of those events in email.  I was then able to review the response and choose whether or not to approve the response.

Why am I so excited about this?  Simple.  It is a great way to engage students in studying nature while taking advantage of one of their favorite tools, technology.  Armed with mobile technology, students can interact with the environment.  In a few weeks, our students will be heading to an environmental center for a field trip.  I'm busily downloading and installing this app on every mobile device I can get my hands on in preparation for student use that day.

If you're interested in seeing the things we're finding outside, check out our observations.

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