Apr 18

Students exploring the ARKive websiteSpending sunny afternoons after school exploring the local zoo and experiencing dozens of endangered species face-to-face all while playing with a smart phone doesn’t seem like the normal after-school program on the surface. However, students in Chicago, IL, USA are doing just that and more in a newly launched pilot program marking a unique collaboration between mobile learning initiatives and conservation education.

Biodiversity quest

Recently, the ARKive team traveled to Chicago, IL, USA to help kick-off the Biodiversity Quest program designed to challenge young people to create mobile experiences, also known as quests, at the Lincoln Park Zoo using iPhones and a popular scavenger hunt application, 7scenes. Through a partnership between ARKive, Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots and the Pearson Foundation’s New Learning Institute, this 10-week curriculum is designed to illustrate connections between Chicago youth and the endangered species of the world, both near and far.

The quests will each have a theme that leads other young visitors around the Zoo helping them draw connections between exhibits. For example, a group might design a quest that guides visitors to the exhibits of several species that share a Critically Endangered status because of common threats to their habitats. After completing the program, students will be able to explain what an endangered species is, discuss various threats to species populations around the globe, and gain an understanding of possible solutions to help protect endangered species, all while demonstrating a greater technical skill set gained through hands-on experience with mobile technologies.

Exploring the continents

The ARKive team led two after-school sessions about endangered species and the importance of biodiversity. Students learned about the unique plants and animals found on each continent using the newly created ‘ARKive Geographic: Biodiversity Around the World’ activity. Through this activity, the students enjoyed learning interesting facts about globally endangered species from across the globe. 

ARKive Geographic - Biodiversity Around the World

Students learning about endangered species through the ARKive Geographic - Biodiversity Around the World Activity

Additionally, ARKive staff taught students how to search ARKive by species category (mammal, bird, reptile, etc), by geography or by common name and demonstrated how to create a MyARKive scrapbook for organizing images and films to include in their Biodiversity Quests.

The Biodiversity Quest pilot program comes to an end in June with a culminating event at Lincoln Park Zoo where students will lead their friends and family members on the Quests they’ve created. We’re very excited to return this summer to experience all the hard work and dedication the students put into both their Quests and into learning about endangered species and their conservation.

Liana Vitali, ARKive Science, Education and Outreach Officer, Wildscreen USA