See, Snap, Share!
EcoExplore is a fun, new pilot program for grades K–8. It’s conducted by The North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, but kids anywhere in the state can participate. In a nutshell, participants sign up online, take photos of plants and animals with their smartphones or digital cameras and email their findings for scientists to use. Kids earn points for each observation they send, and can choose to redeem them for binoculars, insect nets, iPod Touch units and other scientific tools. (Currently, earned items must be picked up in Asheville.) Recently, participants who uploaded at least three photos were invited to the Arboretum, where they joined professional ornithologists in banding and releasing songbirds.
Kids can earn extra points by taking pictures at designated “hot spots” at the Arboretum and at gardens at public libraries in Buncombe County. Program director Jonathan Marchal expects to have new hot spots installed at Madison County libraries by this April and expand into at least five additional western N.C. counties by the end of 2018. Children can register at ecoexplore.net.