Who says that technology only encourages kids to stay inside? More and more technology has been specifically developed to get kids to explore the great outdoors. And some of it will help children and teens learn important facts about the planet we inhabit, from the life cycles of animals to the future of renewable energy. Such technology can help kids develop healthy, eco-friendly habits at a young age, which is a big help to parents and our future.
After all, when we get kids and teens engaged and passionate about the world around them from the beginning, it can create life-long habits that are good for the planet and ourselves. These five apps teach kids about the beauty of the natural world, the importance of getting out into nature, and the need to live green.
Tribal Planet has accomplished a lofty goal with their Citizen Science app. They've created an app that is both adult and kid-friendly, and encourages everyone who uses it to get actively involved in science. Users can choose to take on "science quests" within the app, from taking a walk in the forest and recording which animals they see, to going to a wind or solar plant and uploading a photo of the experience. The app also includes science-themed games and easy science experiments for beginners. The coolest part of all? Some of the data collected by the app (such as the number of a certain animal species a user may have recorded) is used to help real scientists in their research.
Ranger Rick has long been the #1 nature magazine for kids. It's no surprise that the award-winning magazine now has an app, as well! Kids get access to many of the informative articles from the original magazine, which cover topics from dinosaurs to modern animal habitats to the importance of sustainable living and farming. Just like the magazine, this app includes comics, usually involving Ranger Rick raccoon and his friends helping endangered animals curb deforestation or climate change, and games. This app has won the Parent's Choice Gold Award and, best of all, includes a free junior membership to the National Wildlife Federation.
Recycling is an important part of green living, and incorporating already-used materials into kid-friendly craft projects is a great way to teach kids the value of recycling. Instead of relying on parents to come up with fun craft ideas, kids can easily get inspiration from this small but informative app.
According to the app's creator, the goal of this app was to condense the many available kid-friendly, recycled craft tutorials into one place, so that kids could easily pick and choose what the projects they'd like to do, as they explain, "When I began to research recycled craft ideas for kids, I knew that I would find a wealth of resources. However, I still wasn't prepared for the variety of different topics and amazing selection of tutorials that I would get. I have done my best to provide an overview and representative sampling of what is out there."
The Lawrence Hall of Science, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, has created a unique app that helps kids understand the water cycle and encourages them to get out and explore the lakes and ponds in their area. This app includes instructions for hands-on experiments and activities, videos on lakes and other freshwater ecosystems from around the world, and a special "under the lake" section, which helps kids understand how lakes are formed and how they respond to everything from changing seasons to pollution.
This app teaches kids everything from the basics of what energy is to the importance of renewable energy technology. With videos, interactive animations and instructions for hands-on energy experiments that kids can do themselves, this app even has a special section about how to conserve energy, with easy tips to help kids use less water, heat, and electricity.