Thanks to a Silverthorne Elementary initiative to explore the nature around them, students took some of what they collected and created collages. (Photo courtesy Tanya Margerm)

Silverthorne students use technology to learn more about the outdoors

A special app helped identify plants and birds

The COVID-19 pandemic may have resulted in the suspension of in-class instruction this spring, but a Silverthorne Elementary initiative which combines technology with the outdoors has given students the opportunity to study the nature around them.

Using an app dowloaded from the iNaturalist.ca website which designs outdoor education programs for students, K-7 students ventured outdoors into the downtown core of the community.

The app collects data, helps identify and shows examples of plants and birds, explained Silverthorne teacher Tanya Margerm.

“Each class was introduced to the program (a lesson taught in the classroom) and each teacher down loaded the app. The students took classroom iPads and photographed plant and bird species they came upon.”

Teachers then loaded the photos onto the app and they were placed on the school’s Bio Blitz data base.

“Sometimes teachers would take a small group and some families were working on this project at home,” said Margerm.

She also put an introductory video on the school’s Facebook page.

Margerm said the initiative, termed the Silverthorne Bio Blitz, was inspired by the Houston Bio Blitz organized each year by A Rocha’s Cindy Verbeek.

“This was the first time that we have participated in this form of nature observation. But we hope to see if we can do this next year and improve our findings,” Margerm said.

There was also an artistic element to the student activities — some of the plant material collected was used to create nature collages.

The Houston Bio Blitz is held over a 48-hour period each May.

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