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Leafsnap For iPad
One of the most elegant apps for developing appreciation of tree diversity and identification.
Publisher: Peter Belhumeur

Why we love this app

To say it is beautiful is an understatement. The imagery that is provided through this app inspires an appreciation of the complexity and diversity of trees. It is particularly intriguing to use the device's camera to take a picture of a leaf and the app uses basic biometrics to suggest the genus and species of the tree leaf photographed. The citizen scientist may use high resolution photos of a dozen different attributes of the identified tree to confirm or discard it as a match to the tree observed. If the citizen scientist (student) confirms the species of a tree, the geolocation of the mobile device places that tree on a national map that others in that region will be able to access and view. In this fashion the citizen scientist is contributing to a global database reviewing the distribution of specific species. Leafsnap draws from researchers at Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. The first iteration of this app serves as a field guide to the trees of the central northeastern United States. However, they intend to expand it's scope to the entire United States.

What it teaches and how it works

First and foremost, Leafsnap nurtures an appreciation for the beauty and diversity of one segment of our living environment. It helps take what is a blur of green where all trees are just trees and begins to teach the dramatic differentiated characteristics between species. The user of this app will find that they have to make the final judgement of what type of tree they are identifying, and will be compelled to use observations of other characteristics beyond just the leaf shape. This is an authentic activity as well, as the user identifies trees, their trees will become a part of public record. As citizen scientists, they will be contributing to a national graphic information system of data about the range and distribution of tree species.

Why your kid won't be able to put it down

There is a certain amount of pride one has as their scientific findings are published to the world wide web. They will develop a new level of curiosity and confidence as they hone their observation skills and confirm their rationale using this app. They will also gain confidence and vocabulary literacies as they <i>put handles</i> on their understanding of different species of trees.

appoLearning Report Card
Educational Content
Features specific educational objectives dot dot dot
Fosters critical thinking dot dot dot
Adapts to kids' skill level dot empty dot empty dot
Kid Appeal
Intellectually stimulating for children dot dot dot
Instructions are clear and simple dot dot dot
Well-suited to age group dot dot dot
Assesses progress and proficiency dot empty dot empty dot
Parents and teachers can assess progress dot empty dot empty dot
Features and Design
Unique in its concept, design and approach dot dot dot
Engaging design and repeatable content dot dot dot
Excellent value for price dot dot dot
Doesn't require additional in-app spending dot dot dot
Safety and Privacy
Doesn't expose kids to external services or advertisers dot dot dot
Doesn't ask for personal data dot dot dot

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