The South Dakota Discovery Center in Pierre challenges all South Dakotans to “Nature in Place” during the month of April.
Special projects director Anne Lewis developed the Nature in Place idea to connect people of all ages to the wild plants and animals where they are, as the nation continues to practice social distancing. She encourages people to to observe, document and, most of all, enjoy the natural world around them.
Lewis says a backyard or any patch of grass is a great place to observe nature. She says you don’t need a traditional wilderness to see wild things.” Dandelions, robins and common household insects like box elder bugs and spiders in the bathtub are all “no-wilderness nature.”
Participating in the Discovery Center’s month of Nature in Place can be simple or involve use of technology. South Dakotans and their families can document and share what they see with each other using normal modes of communication, or they can document observations of nearby nature using different phone applications and share them with the world. iNaturalist, an online or mobile app, records encounters with organisms via photographs, audio recordings, and written notes. Even the youngest naturalist or biologist can take photos or record sounds of the wilderness around them. Observations are then uploaded to the iNaturalist website, and a project has been set up specifically for South Dakota examinations. Find it at bit.ly/sdnatureinplace and share your observations with everyone.
If participants would prefer to look and answer their nature questions, without documenting them, Lewis says Seek is a phone app, similar to iNaturalist, but it does not collect any user information or require an account. Observers simply open the app, point their camera at a plant or animal, and the app attempts to identify it using iNaturalist’s database. It’s also possible to Nature in Place with a pen and paper, or to just use your eyes.
The South Dakota Discovery Center is hosting live sessions for individuals, families and educators on how to use both iNaturalist and Seek. Find out more by visiting the organization’s Facebook page. The instructional videos will remain on the page for all Nature in Place participants. You can also join the South Dakota Discovery Center every weekday at 10am for science learning fun.
- Monday is “Science with Jan,” for PreK-6th grade
- Tuesdays and Thursday are “Be an Explorer,” for elementary-age students
- Wednesday and Fridays are “Family Citizen Science,” which requires parent participation as it features app based learning
People are encouraged to use #advocateforscience on social media.
Find out more at www.sd-discovery.org.