Free App for Young Scientists: Plum’s Photo Hunt

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Screenshots. Copyright WGBH 2014
Screenshots. Copyright WGBH 2014

I met my wife when I was a photographer. I’ve encouraged both of my daughters to take photos. And I have TEDx and TED Ed talks online about photography. And as part of my ongoing encouragement to take advantage of this ubiquitous tool, I’ve produced (with my team at WGBH) a free, photographic iPhone app.

It’s Plum’s Photo Hunt and it launched today at iTunes.

It’s a part of Plum Landing, our brand new PBS KIDS environmental science project for kids 6-9, and the app gets kids outside and taking photo safari missions. Kids can take photos, photobomb them, and save them or send them to the site for inclusion in nearly 100 image galleries which we’ll be updating every week with new photos. There’s an HTML5 design tool on the site for those that don’t have the app.

Our goal is to get kids outside and engaged in simple scientific observation. The app prompts kids to find things like signs of the change of seasons, or shadows, or wildlife. It then supports them with guiding questions so that they can describe their picture with some reflection before submitting it for publication.

Screenshot. Copyright WGBH 2014.
Screenshot. Copyright WGBH 2014.

The challenge of keeping an app like this COPPA compliant is no small endeavor, and all images will be reviewed before posting. The new COPPA privacy rules include new definitions of personal information and include selfies and geo-data, so we won’t be using either.

Behind the scenes, as we’ve been making this, we’ve had a lot of input from kids, from community educators, and from science specialists to keep this simple application as kid-friendly and science-focused as it can be. I hope you Geek Dads and Geek Moms will encourage your kids to give this a spin.

Funding for this project came from the National Science Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Kendeda Fund with additional funding provided by the Northern Research Station, Forest Service, and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Links to it and to the original animations, games and activities for parents and educators can also be found at brand new Plum Landing site at PBSKids.org.

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