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