An activity day backed by the Department for Education (DfE) has involved the use of mobile apps to map the emotions of children taking part in the National Education Nature Park project.
A pilot of the technology took place last week at an event at RHS Garden Bridgewater in Manchester, in advance of the launch of the Nature Park programme – which will digitally map the grounds of every school in England – later this year.
It will be run by the Natural History Museum with the Royal Horticultural Society and geospatial partner Esri UK.
The company created mapping apps for the event to introduce young children to the concepts of mapping and citizen science.
One enables them to record their experiences by plotting what they saw, heard and smelt, along with the emotions they felt at different locations. Another app introduces them to species identification and the skills needed for tending to different plants and wildlife.
The software also allows them to explore the results on an interactive dashboard to understand how different environments cause different reactions and encourage problem solving.
The test apps will be developed into final versions for the launch of the Nature Park.
Katie Hall, schools manager at Esri UK, said: “Digital mapping enabled the children to record and share information and start learning some of the skills needed to study biodiversity at their own learning sites.
“This type of activity helps young people begin to understand our emotional connection with the natural world and how improvements to it have a positive impact on wellbeing. Biodiversity mapping will help children develop a wide range of skills, including numeracy, spatial awareness, data visualisation and analysis, which encourages analytical thinking. All of these skills help prepare them for future careers and to better protect the world around us.”
All education settings in England will be able to sign up to become part of the National Education Nature Park and work towards the Climate Action Awards via a new online platform, set to launch in the Autumn term. They will also be able to access the free resources and track biodiversity gains in their areas.