ParkApps NE Ohio is an interactive learning app developed by technologists, educators, and scientists at Kent State University, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and Cleveland Metroparks (partially funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation #1422764). This free tool provides park visitors in Northeast Ohio with relevant and interesting science content. It’s like having a park ranger walk with you through some of the most beautiful ecologies in both Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Cleveland Metroparks.
Like other apps, ParkApps does provide an interactive map with points of interest. Users can click on points to see a description of the location, pictures, and even amenities. Users can also get directions to that location regardless of whether they are hiking, biking, or driving.
However, this app is more than just a map. This app was created to help people learn science in parks. There are currently two key features for informal science learning. “Adventure Tracks” allow park visitors to explore content within trails. For instance, they can take a hike on the Ledges Trail to learn about “life on the ledges.” They can walk the Beaver Marsh to learn more about ecology in the marshes.
The app is not meant to have people walking around the park glued to their phone. Instead, the phone sends a notification when the person has entered a geofenced area. The user can then stop and move to the side of the trail to learn more about the place they have entered. Rather than just sharing information, the app is set up to ask interactive questions about science content. At the end of each adventure track, participants earn digital badges.
Park visitors can also attempt to find hidden “easter eggs” (information that is available when they enter the geofenced area) that are not available on the map. (Park visitors who want a hint can tweet their request to @appsforparks)
In addition to these two learning activities, ParkApps NE Ohio gives the users the chance to create their own map of favorite places. They can record a point, enter a description, and even save a picture. Future iterations will allow users to share their points of interest.
This is the first release of the app. Subsequent releases will include both identification (to help learn more about flora and fauna) and new citizen science projects where citizens can help scientists conduct research in the park.
FOR USERS WITH LIMITED MOBILITY: There are some beautiful parts of our national, state, and local parks that have limited access simply due to the terrain of the trails. While we encourage all of our visitors to walk the trails if they are able, ParkApps provides pictures and descriptions of content so that users with limited mobility can virtually participate in the great outdoors.
PLEASE NOTE: This app requires an initial internet connection to download content. Users can then go “offline” in the park if they choose. New content will be delivered and user content will be uploaded to their user account once the mobile device is connected.
Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life.
Ratings and Reviews
Though not entirely finished, this app looks very robust, comprehensive, and useful, even in its infancy. I expected a simple GPS map, but found that it is so much more. I look forward to exploring with my family with the Adventure Tracks, and hope to encounter some Learn As You Go hidden spots. Citizen Science, the identification portion, and the badging offer numerous opportunities for expansion. I, for one, am psyched!
- Dr. Richard Ferdig
- 95.5 MB
Requires iOS 8.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
- Age Rating
- Rated 4+
- This app may use your location even when it isn't open, which can decrease battery life.
- © 2019 ParkApps
With Family Sharing set up, up to six family members can use this app.