I recently discovered a new iPad / iPhone app called Seek by iNaturalist.. When I was a lot younger and out walking in the countryside I valued having someone with me who could help me identify the birds, trees, insects or wild flowers, who could give me their alternative names and perhaps some of the folk lore surrounding them. Sadly there are fewer and fewer people around like that anymore. I try my best to pass on this information to those around me but it can be hard work getting young (and older) people interested at times. This app allows you to take a “knowledgeable person” with you! You can take a photo of a creature or plant, upload it to the app and it tries to identify it for you and give you further information about it. I find it works quite well sometimes identifying something straight away, sometimes identifying the family that it belongs to, occasionally saying that the photo is not good enough!
There is a badge reward system included to encourage and motivate you to go looking for more nature. I found that if the phone or Internet signal wasn’t too good it could take ages to identify so I would recommend taking pictures with the iPad camera and then going back to the classroom to upload the image to the app. Battery life is also quite short when using the app so another reason for taking photos and going back to the classroom.
I am impressed with the app, there are a few things that could be improved like being able to select a bit of a photo eg a bee on a flower rather than the whole flower but you can do that by cropping the photo first. We will be trying this app out with Year 3 and 4 pupils over the next term and I hope to report back soon.