Project Noah is a crowdsourced online database of plants and animals that lets kids become citizen scientists. Kids use the camera on their mobile device to capture images of their local ecosystems, then share them through the app or by uploading them to the Project Noah website. Photos are added to a growing field guide that kids can view as an interactive world map. Kids can also actively join specific local or global missions, contributing valued scientific data.
When kids see an animal, they can upload a "spotting," entering data on the species including common name, scientific name, description, and habitat. If kids aren't sure about the details, they can click “Help me ID this species," which invites other users to weigh in. The user community is highly active, and comments and feedback are overwhelmingly informative. In the Amplify version of the app, teachers can create classrooms and add students, further customizing the experience.
The interactive field guide is a great way for kids to learn about plants and animals in their neighborhood or around the world. Local and global missions can be a fun way for teachers to get kids actively observing their environment and participating in real-world scientific research. For example, the "Mitten Crab Watch" mission helps scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center keep tabs on an invasive species that is impacting the San Francisco Bay, the Great Lakes, and the U.S. Gulf Coast. Teachers can also create custom missions to coordinate with class materials. This is particularly useful in the Amplify version since teachers can set up classrooms, and students can log into their classrooms, directly within the app.
The Project Noah website allows you to set up a classroom account, but unless you have the Amplify version, this isn't accessible in the mobile app. There are some privacy concerns, as Project Noah is also a social network that contains user-created content, but that's more pronounced on the website than in the app. User-generated entries may not provide the most detailed information for each organism, but Project Noah provides a great opportunity for teachers to get kids started observing, researching, and writing about their environments.