Using Tech to Connect Inner City Youth with Endangered Species
Spending sunny afternoons after school exploring the local zoo and encountering dozens of endangered species face-to-face all while using a smart phone doesn't resemble a typical after-school program on the surface. However, students in Chicago did just that and more in a pilot program marking a unique collaboration between mobile learning initiatives and conservation education.
The Biodiversity Quest pilot program was designed to challenge young minds to create mobile learning experiences at the Lincoln Park Zoo using iPhones and a popular scavenger hunt application, 7scenes. Through a partnership between ARKive, Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots and the Pearson Foundation's New Learning Institute, this 10-week curriculum was designed to illustrate connections between Chicago youth and the endangered species of the world, both near and far.
Students first researched endangered species on ARKive and learned about the power of wildlife imagery to inspire conservation efforts both locally and globally. Next, students gained practical 21st century skills by exploring iPhone functions and capabilities to develop Biodiversity Quests. In small groups, students developed themes for quests that would lead other young visitors around the Zoo, helping them draw connections between exhibits. After completing the program, students were able to define an endangered species, discuss threats to species populations around the globe, as well as possible solutions, all while demonstrating a technical skill set gained through hands-on experience with mobile technologies.
The first Biodiversity Quest pilot program culminated with an event at the Lincoln Park Zoo where students led their friends and family members on the Quests they created. The film clip below highlights both the program and the final day with interviews from each of the partners involved. Biodiversity Quests are a fantastic example of Taking Technology Outdoors through great partnerships between schools and nonprofit organizations.
Submitted by: Liana Vitali, ARKiveEducation and Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA