At the Wild Network we're trying to reconnect children with nature by asking people to swap some screen time for wild time. But, like we've always said, we’re by no means anti-technology. Firstly, that would be a pointless battle to fight and secondly, there is loads of technology out there that is brilliant at helping to reconnect children (and adults) to nature.
So how wild is your tech?
Find out how your technology usage is categorised with this simple test:
- Are you physically active (WILD), or sedate (TAME) when you use the technology?
- Are you mentally active (BUZZING), or mentally passive (ZONKED) when you use the technology?
TAME + ZONKED tech is the worst – that’s the world of bad TV (i.e. Disney). TAME and BUZZING is OK – that’s a challenging computer game or a stimulating film (here's a random example, erm... Project Wild Thing?). WILD and ZONKED is OK, too – it includes running apps and music on the move.
But the king of tech, if you care about connecting to the environment, is WILD and BUZZING. We’ve been looking in vain for a list of great apps and websites which can be described in this way.
So here they are.
This is not a review, or a recommendation. Maybe it is the start of a thread where we celebrate the WILD and BUZZING technology that is already out there. And of course, it goes without saying that the best WILD and BUZZING tech is our very own WildTime App!
1) Wildlife Trackers | Website | Free!
Wildlife Trackers is all about getting outside and seeing the amazing creatures that exist right under your nose. You just need to set up a profile and then you can start exploring a list of 90 creatures to spot. You can upload pictures of each spot as well as completing activities and you get points for each of these. As a reward, you can win badges, compete for the league table and compare scores with your friends.
Citizen science apps
1) Project Noah | iOS/Android | Free!
Great citizen science app that lets you document observations of animals and plants, upload photos and tag location.You can also set/take part in missions to identify specific animals. Nice interface, you can earn badges etc which makes it kid-friendly.
2) iNaturalist | iOS/Android | Free!
Similar to Project Noah, but doesn’t require a photo upload when adding an observation to the map (useful if you couldn’t get your camera out or identified a bird by its call). Data also seems to be more scientifically useful, so a better option for older kids and adults.
Series of apps for identifying butterflies and ladybirds (including a forthcoming app for crickets and grasshoppers). As well as a guide for identification, uploading your photos provides scientific data for species recording and conservation schemes.
Plants and trees apps
1) Tree ID | iOS | £2.99
Tree identification app, provides photos of whole tree and leaves as well as info on species.
2) Trees of Britain | iOS/Android | Free!
Similar app for android. Cheaper, but doesn’t have closeup photos to ID trees from leaves. Useful a a reference guide though.
3) Plant tracker | iOS/Android | Free!
Nice Citizen Science app for tracking down non-native invasive plant species in the UK. App shows you how to identify the species and upload geo-tagged photos when you see them. Data goes to the Environment Agency and the University of Bristol.
1) iBird UK & Ireland Guide to Birds | iOS | £10.49 (or free Lite version)
Birdwatching app with photographs, maps, illustrations and bird calls. Bit pricey, but lots of features, and also comes in a free lite version
2) UK Birds | Android | 69p
Photos and info on over 600 species of birds in the UK. Features birdcalls for some species and allows you to mark the species you have seen and add notes for them too.
1) Pocket Universe | iOS | £2.99 (or free Express version)
Great astronomy app, especially for beginners. Point and shoot identification using the compass on your phone, also has quizzes and observation suggestions based on the time of year.
2) Mobile Observatory | Android | £4.03
Award-winning app for android. Point and shoot ID with LOADS of information and extra features. Too many to list here, see their website...
3) Star Chart | iOS/Android | Free!
Nice app that’s also free. Lets you manually set location to see what the sky looks like from anywhere in the world, as well as what the stars look like in the past and the future. Upgrade for £2.29 to learn more!
1) Deluxe Moon HD | iOS | £1.99
Beautiful app with loads of info. Gives you the phases of the moon with times and calendar. Also sun, longitude/latitude and eclipses.
2) Moon | Android | Free!
Nice simple app which shows the phases of the moon. Has calendar feature and lets you set the current moon phase on your lock screen.
1) Geocaching | iOS/Android | £8.99/£6.99
Bit expensive but the official Geocaching app built on their database. Reliable, and allows you to download caches for offline use.They also have a free “Intro” app to try out.
2) c:geo | Android | Free!
Doesn’t run on the official geocaching database, but scrapes the data instead. Useful for people without a geocaching.com membership.
3) XNote | iOS | £2.29
Virtual geocaching app, great for kids. Allows user to set scavenger hunts which can be sent to anyone with a 3g smart device (they don’t need the app). Children or students can hunt for hidden messages.
1) Viewranger | iOS/Android | Free!
GPS navigation app for planning and taking hikes. Also has access to maps for almost anywhere in the world. GPS positioning even with no mobile signal, if you're going properly wild.
2) SAS survival guide | iOS/Android | £4.49 (or free Lite version)
App version of the classic survival guide, updated with videos, photos and quizzes. All you need to know to survive in the wild...
~ Written by David Bond, director of Project Wild Thing.