Project Noah Provides a Fun and Eco-Friendly Pursuit for Kids of All Ages

Parents are always on the lookout for activities that are going to provide not only fun and entertainment for kids, but also some added value through educational aspects. And parents that are trying to do their part to create a cleaner, greener future for their kids may also seek out pursuits that give kids an understanding of the green movement and an appreciation for the world around them. These days, the best place to look for such fun and educational opportunities is online. And the mobile space delivers with a slew of apps designed to get kids on board with the ideals of eco-friendly living in a package that makes learning seem like fun. One such application for the iPhone is Project Noah, an on-the-go field guide that lets kids catalog species of plants and animals in their own backyard.

The application is free to download on the iTunes store, and although there have been some bug fixes along the way, it currently enjoys a rating of 4.5 stars, which means it comes highly recommended by users. And with a stated goal of creating a “go-to platform for documenting all the world’s organisms”, the developers have certainly set themselves a lofty ideal. However, they’re relying on user input, to some degree, to help them with their task. Consider that this application is sort of like crowdsourcing for species cataloging, and you and your kids can play a role in creating a comprehensive database of the world’s species.

There are three levels of participation for users to choose from: Spottings, Location-based Field Guide, and Missions. The first is pretty self-explanatory. Users simply snap pics of species in their geographic region in order to begin cataloging the world around them. Whether you spot a species you recognize or you don’t have any clue what you’re taking a photograph of, you can add it to a category (plants, mammals, birds, insects, etc.), fill in your location, and submit. And if you don’t know what it is you’re looking at, simply open it up to community discussion to see if other members can identify the particular critter you’ve managed to capture with your iPhone camera.

Of course, you and your kids can also use the Location-based Field Guide to find out which species have been spotted in your area, thanks to other user pics. You can find these entries in a number of ways, by looking at photos, a list, or even a map to see what has been captured and where. You can also filter by the type of wildlife you’re most interested in to narrow the results, and each selection will offer information about the plant or animal presented. This is a great way for the whole family to learn more about the environment right outside your door.

Finally, users can participate in Missions. Project Noah is affiliated with a number of research laboratories, environmental groups, and other eco-friendly organization that are dedicated to gathering data about the abundant life-forms that make up our great planet. When you opt to take on missions you can help these groups with their research. You might be asked to keep an eye out for native species, migrating flocks, or even plants and animals that have invaded the region. All will provide valuable data to organizations seeking to gain a better understanding of our planet and the many species that populate it.

The crowdsourcing provided by Project Noah may not hold a candle to other environmental data resources. But then again, this local, grass-roots application aimed at turning average users into field scientists in tune with their natural environment could end up being the best data collection tool ever if people participate. And considering it’s free to download, there’s no real reason not to.