Today’s parents have many concerns that where unknown even a generation ago. They worry about obesity, too much time in front of screens, safety of their kids in the neighborhood from cars and predators. It’s no wonder that they often restrict their children’s free movement to their own block and sometimes just the front yard.
One of the results of this has been dubbed “Nature Deficient Disorder.” Richard Louv not only coined the term but campaigns tirelessly to increase the awareness of its impact on children. Richard’s efforts have resulted in formation of many local advocacy groups around the States and the world.
What more can be done? During the past five years another body of research has established that using game-like mechanisms can be a powerful tool to increase engagement and incentivize positive behaviors. “Gamification” is often reliant on the interactivity available through the use of smart devices; phones, tablets and computers. In other words, “there’s an app for that.”
Mapping the Wild is a proposal to use gamification to address the Nature Deficient Disorder. The concept is to create a tool that provides support and rewards for people, and kids in particular, to discover and map the nature that is all around them. Not only will this raise the awareness of nature for kids and families but, over time, will also become a valuable tool that will inform the community about these resources so that they can be factored into planning and development decisions.
- To use smart devices to engage children in learning about the plants and animals in their environment.
- To document the extent and value of “unused” spaces within communities.
- To expand the area where children are allowed to roam.
Mapping Wild Things (MWT) is an educational system consisting of:
- A smart device application (iOS & Android)
- Cloud Storage
- Website with
- Program fundamentals
- Instructor and Parent Guides
- Plant and animal identification links
- Social network support, calendar, help forum, etc.
MWT will be co-developed by interested stakeholders. The goal is to provide these organizations with a tool to advance their missions. Suggested stakeholders could include, but not be limited to:
- Native Plant Society
- Boys & Girls Clubs
- Nature Conservancy
- Children & Nature Network
- Code for America
- Students for the Environment – EPA
- Climate Reality Project