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Has your child ever seen a red-tailed hawk? Ever wondered at an electric jellyfish or a hairy spider? This app plugs in to an ongoing global scientific project that allows young and old alike to explore, and to share information about the natural world.
"NOAH" stands for Networked Organisms and Habitats—and the emphasis is on the networking. Unlike electronic educational tools that trap kids indoors with glowing screens and blinking lights, NOAH forces young naturalists into the great outdoors. Kids carrying a smart phone can snap pictures of animals and plant life, then instantly share with others. Users from around the world give feedback, commenting on images, sharing pictures of similar wildlife, or suggesting what the animal or plant might be. In addition to submitting “spottings”, citizen scientists can tap on any image that sparks their interest, and read about what it is and where it was spotted. Cool snakelike creature with wild yellow polka dots? That's a swallowtail caterpillar. Spindly bug that looks like it came out of a Star Wars flick? A Rhinoceros Beetle snapped by someone in Malaysia.
Kids can adjust the app's settings to browse flora and fauna in their own backyard, or join missions worldwide and add their sightings to projects like “Birds of the World” or the National Wildlife Foundation's “Watch for Wildlife” challenge. This app is a great way to spark an interest in science. There's a big wide world out there and with this app in hand, kids can explore it, one animal at a time.
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