We love kids and we love science and we really, really love kids who love science. With all the sturm und drang about the dangers of the Internet and technology in general on young, impressionable minds, it’s great to see technologies being developed that are teaching kids to be better observers of the natural world.
Presented at last year’s PopTech was Yasser Ansari‘s Project Noah (Networked Organisms and Habitats). Project Noah allows you to record your sightings of plants, birds, insects and animals using your mobile device. You can make field notes, add pictures, and geo-locate where your sighting took place, giving other users and researchers important information while you’re out enjoying a Sunday morning family hike. With new features launched earlier this year, the app allows you to earn retro-styled girl/boy scout-esque badges, lending it a nice gaming component while creating an army of young citizen scientists.
Another cool app for little nature lovers is Leaf Snap, which does something similar but specifically for trees and plants. And a new app called KidScience is being developed by Liz Heineke, who runs the kid-friendly site Kitchen Pantry Scientist. This app will allow you to search for age- and materials-appropriate science experiments that you can perform using common household products.
Not an app builder but a crowd favorite at this year’s PopTech was 13-year old Aidan Dwyer, whose field observations of tree growth resulted in his creating a new approach to collecting sunlight. He now divides his time between junior high and collaborations with research organizations like the University of Madison’s Resilience Research Center — not bad for a kid who can’t yet drive.
With all the new science-based apps for kids being developed and launched, presenters at future PopTech events may become increasingly younger as a new generation of kids trade in their Playstations for Moleskines and start taking note of the actual world around them.
Know any good science-based apps for kids? Add them to the comments below!