Dec 5

When we heard that a wildlife club had been playing our ‘Survival’ app we couldn’t resist getting in touch to see what they thought. We spoke to Kate MacRae (WildlifeKate), who runs the Water Orton Wildlife (WOW) Club to find out more.

So, who is ‘WildlifeKate’?Kate MacRae

People often ask what I do… and I hope they don’t expect me to have a quick answer, as my days are crammed packed with so many different roles; teacher, naturalist, writer, photographer, education consultant….and mum!

Primarily, I am a naturalist and educationalist. I am a trained primary school teacher and I now teach part time in a Warwickshire school where I am the IT manager. I have been teaching in the primary sector for over twenty years, but my passion for natural history started a lot earlier than that!

Although I grew up in London, I have been obsessed with just about all aspects of the natural world for as long as I can remember. I spent many happy hours in Greenwich Park as a child, feeding the squirrels and watching the wildlife there.

My enthusiasm for the natural world is now spreading into just about all the work I undertake. I run my own consultancy business when I am not teaching and specialise in writing education materials.

I am lucky enough to live in a pretty rural location, with a garden full of wildlife.  It was a nest box camera system that really got me ‘hooked’ to using cameras in the garden and my desire to share these with others was the driving force behind my WildlifeKate website.  A year and a half later, I now have nearly 20 cameras in the garden which I live stream on my website and have been astounded by the interest all over the world.

Photo of a male kestrel at nestbox

A male kestrel caught on camera at a nestbox

Working with young people and teaching them about the natural world has always been close to my heart. I run the ‘WOW’ Club at school (Water Orton Wildlife Club) and I have a long waiting list of kids keen to join. We are lucky enough to have lovely school grounds and we work hard to include foster learning opportunities in the outdoors. We have hens at school, as well as a school garden and wildlife area. We meet once a week and get involved in all sorts of activities from making wildlife homes, bird feeders to exploring our local grounds for wildlife, then we blog about what we get up to. We have a camera on our bird feeders and in a nest box in the spring, which lives stream on our school website. I love sharing my enthusiasm with young people and feel it is essential to foster a knowledge, love and appreciation of the natural world – these pupils are the naturalists of the future!

ARKive in the Classroom

As a teacher, I have often used the ARKive website. The comprehensive collection of images and videos makes it a perfect choice both as a teaching resource in the classroom on the interactive whiteboard and as a research tool for pupils. It is great that pupils and teachers can embed images and videos into their own presentations and I have used lots of the videos and images within work on life cycles. The games have been very popular with my kids at school too.

Battle for ‘Survival’

When I saw that ARKive had released a ‘Survival’ app, I was keen to try it out with my WOW Club. We have a couple of iPads in school and it works brilliantly on those. The group were soon swiping, double tapping and pinching their way through the challenges and it was generating loads of discussion… ‘that can’t be a mammal, it lays eggs…’ ‘It’s gotta be a fish, it hasn’t got fur…’

Pictures of the WOW Club students playing Survival

WOW Club students playing Survival

The bright cartoon graphics, combined with vibrant coloured photos made it visually very appealing and the competition element meant the kids were keen to improve on their last survival score and beat their friends. Battles were fought to unlock photos and characters and then the kids were keen to go onto the website to find out more about some of the endangered species that were appearing… some of which they were unfamiliar with.

Here’s what the WOW Club thought… 

‘I like the game because I love animals but you are learning at the same time… I did not know if some were mammals, birds or fish, but now I do….’

‘I love this game, especially trying to tap, swipe or pinch. I give this game 5*s and 100 out of 100!’

‘I think this is a great game because you learn about animals and you have to act really quick and I was too slow… it is totally EPIC!’

‘I like the ‘Survival’ app because it helps you remember things as the knowledge comes back to you each time you play’

WOW Club students working together to play Survival

WOW Club students working together to play Survival

The kids are still trying to beat me in the game … I reign as the supreme ‘Survival’ champ, but it won’t be long before they have caught me up… they were already planning on uploading it on their devices at home. Their enthusiasm for this game was infectious and with a growing knowledge of endangered species, they will be giving me a run for my money very soon… I won’t be the WOW Club ARKive Survival Champ for long, I fear!  

Kate MacRae, ‘WildlifeKate

Survival is available for free now on the App store and Android Market.

  • nana marinou (December 5th, 2011 at 6:46 pm):

    Congratulations ,Survival Champ!!! I wish I were a kid and take part in the game…I admire you apart from any other reason, because these children learn to love all animals and care for them.