This new app encourages children to connect with the natural world through an engaging digital experience.
The Natural History Museum (NHM) is the most visited natural history museum in Europe and the top science attraction in the UK; we welcome more than 4.5 million visitors a year. Now, the NHM, in partnership with Dell EMC and in association with Intel and Microsoft, launched Dippy’s Naturenauts, a progressive web app (PWA) using mobile technology to create a digital experience to encourage children to venture outdoors and interact with the natural world. This will be the first time PWA technology has been used to create this type of interactive experience for children and the Museum commissioned digital creative agency Toaster with the task of delivering it to the public.The educational app has been created to support the Museum’s two-year, UK-wide tour of its iconic Diplodocus dinosaur cast, Dippy on Tour Click To Tweet
“Our goal was to create curiosity about the natural world through a digital product that mixes experimentation, learning and story-telling,” explains Jake Cooper, ECD at Toaster. “Too often technology is positioned as a reason why we are losing touch with nature. Dippy’s tour is a great platform to help kids connect with the world around them.”
The educational app has been created to support the Museum’s two-year, UK-wide tour of its iconic Diplodocus dinosaur cast, Dippy on Tour. Dippy the Diplodocus had never been on public display outside London but has now been installed in Dorset, the first stop of a UK-wide tour which will travel to seven other partner venues, ending in Norwich in 2020. The tour aims to instil a passion for nature in children and encourage families to explore green spaces wherever they live – in countryside or urban environments.
Children can create their own avatar to personalise the experience Click To Tweet
“Dippy, the Natural History Museum’s most famous specimen, is on a mission to reconnect the next generation of scientists with the natural world around them. Toaster’s approach enables us to best leverage the digital landscape to capture the imagination of a much wider audience and offer them an immersive experience, regardless of whether they are able to see Dippy’s bones in the flesh,” says Piers Jones, Chief Product and Digital Officer at the Natural History Museum. “At a time when people are more disconnected than ever from nature, we believe finding new ways to ignite curiosity in and understanding of the natural world has never been more vital, and this progressive web app will help engage children with the nature on their doorstep and encourage them to explore, discover and want to protect the world around them.”
Designed for children aged four and above, characters Dippy and Fern the fox lead the user through a series of fun exploratory games created to encourage them to interact with the natural world around them
- A ‘tree safari’, in which children are able to make virtual bark rubbings from different trees by using the cameras on their phones, swiping their fingers across the screen which captures the image and allows them to add annotations and build their own digital scrapbook.
- Identifying birds by appearance and their song to provide information about birds native to different parts of the country.
- Finding things in nature utilising the devices built in camera, from the sky and rocks to feathers and flowers, that match selected shades and tones on a digital colour chart. This super-accessible activity will inspire children about the many amazing colours that exist in nature all around them.
- Identifying flowers – using scientific identification techniques the app will guide children to compare their photographs of flowers to a library in the app and set them on the path of identification.
Children will be encouraged to create their own avatar to personalise the experience. By completing the tasks and challenges throughout the interactive adventure children and families will unlock special badges and fun facts about UK wildlife. As the tasks are completed the players will unlock new pages in a digital storybook that features their avatar and photography alongside Dippy and Fern as they explore the natural world together.The progressive web app technology enables app-like functionality on a wide variety of devices from smart phones or tablets Click To Tweet
The progressive web app technology enables app-like functionality on a wide variety of devices from smart phones or tablets, through a web browser, whilst also delivering a version of the experience that works best on devices with lower functionality as well as desktop. Once the browser has loaded the content the app will be fully functional offline allowing the user to limit data usage and use the app in areas where connectivity may be low. This is achieved by the PWAs service-worker caching content, which speeds up the loading content and means the app will load faster when you revisit it.
“This app is a great example of how we can encourage engagement with nature through technology,” says Claire Vyvyan, Senior Vice President UK&I Commercial, Dell EMC. “As leaders in technology, it’s our responsibility to inspire young individuals and help them to understand the exciting opportunities that a career in STEM holds; and of course, the power of technology to drive common good and human progress. Dippy’s Naturenauts harnesses the entertainment value of mobile devices which, with the help of parents, enables children to use these devices as a gateway to the natural world.”
You can view more information and Dippy’s tour dates here
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Alice Bonasio is a VR and Digital Transformation Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.