How can computing help us re-connect with nature?

By James Robinson. Posted

This week James and Carrie Anne go outdoors to explore some of the ways in which educators can connect their learners with nature using technology. Whether for investigating local habitats and wildlife or exploring remote locations, technology is a vital tool for learning about the natural world and our place in it. Nature is yet another context through which learners can experience computing concepts and learn about the relevance of programming, physical computing, and machine learning.

Guests

We're joined by two inspiring guests who share their experiences combining computing and nature and bringing those experiences to learners:

  • Alasdair Davies is Technical Director of the Arribada Initiative, Co-Founder of NatureBytes, a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow, and a good friend of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
  • Natalie Shersby is a prolific computing club volunteer, running Code Clubs in schools for the past three years and a CoderDojo in a community library. She has been experimenting to make a motion-sensing, Raspberry Pi-powered, DIY wildlife camera with her CoderDojo.
Carrie Anne Philbin
Carrie Anne Philbin, MBE, is a computing educator, YouTuber, author, and host of the Hello World podcast.
James Robinson
James Robinson is a computing educator, trainer, and host of the Hello World podcast.
Natalie Shersby.
Natalie Shersby is a prolific computing club volunteer, running Code Clubs in schools for the past three years, and a CoderDojo in a community library.
Alasdair Davies.
Alasdair Davies is Technical Director of the Arribada Initiative, Co-Founder of NatureBytes, and a good friend of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.


Together we talk about the importance and relevance of nature as a context for learners, as it's an area many learers are interested in and where there are significant real-world challenges that computing may help solve. We highlight the possibilities that computing enables, especially around observing and monitoring natural processes and environments. The proliferation of low-cost, programmable computing devices makes it even easier for learners to replicate scientific experiments as well as develop their own.

For more insights into teaching and learning from classrooms all around the world, check out and subscribe to Hello World magazine. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave a five-star review wherever you get your podcasts.

We’ll be back in two weeks time with our next episode, where we'll ask the question "What is machine learning, and why should we be teaching it to young learners?".

You can get in touch with your questions or comments about this current episode at podcast@helloworld.cc or @helloworld_edu on Twitter.

Show notes

General

Digital Making

  • Monitor plant growth using our cress egg heads project

  • Build you own wildlife camera by following our bird box project or instructions from My Naturewatch, with Naturebytes and using similar materials to Natalie

  • Read more about the Arribada Initiative and its open approach to conservation technology

  • Discover Zooniverse, which enables learners to participate in cutting-edge research across a range of disciplines

  • Instant Wild is a project from the Zoological Society London in which learners help researchers identify and categorise animal species captured on camera around the world

  • The Raspberry Pi Foundation works with the Scout Association to offer a range of activities that connect computing concepts with the outdoors as part of the Scouts' Digital Maker badges, including a digital leaf identifier activity

  • Use our turtle tracker project project to encourage your learners to use Scratch to find the meaning in a real data set gathered by tracking sea turtles around the islands of Príncipe and Poilão

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