It’s Earth Day and the Royal Ontario Museum is launching Habitat in Canada! There will be five new Habitat pins to be found in the museum. Canadian players will be able to trade the local pins they find with other players around the world.
We sat down with Aaron Phillips from the Schad Gallery of Biodiversity to learn a little more about ROM and what they have planned.
Tell us a little about the ROM. How many kids come through a year?
- The Royal Ontario Museum is one of the largest museums in Canada, and rather unique in that we have extensive collections encompassing not just art, nature, or history, but all three under one roof! It’s a little tricky to parse just how many kids come through – but I can say that in 2015-2016, we had 1.1 million visitors at the museum, of which 100,000 were students visiting with their classes. Add to that all the kids who participate in our camp programs, as well as all those who come in with their families through general admissions and membership, and it adds up to A LOT of kids!
What have been some of your most popular exhibitions for kids?
- We’ve found that children enjoy opportunities to interact with our galleries and exhibitions in diverse ways, whether through touchable replica objects, puzzles, costumes or technology. To that end, we have had great success with exhibitions featuring interactives geared towards children (and social media savvy adults) such as our recent Pompeii: In the Shadow of the Volcano and, currently, Out of the Depths: A Blue Whale Story.
What are you doing for Earth Day?
- This Sunday (Apr 23) we’re having a building wide Family Funday program called “Earth Matters”, where we’re bringing in a number of ecology-, environment- and citizen science-oriented organizations to encourage our visitors to take action to better conserve and preserve our planet (which includes introducing them to Habitat the Game, of course!) it will be a great opportunity for visitors of all ages to learn more about environmentally-minded organizations and how they can themselves take action towards greater sustainability.
How will kids be using Habitat in the museum?
- They’ll be using it as a new way to further explore and discover some of the iconic specimens in our biodiversity galleries and exhibitions. I’d also like to think that as they complete challenges, they’ll be thinking about how the sustainability of their actions relates to the biodiversity on display. I hopeful we’ll eventually see us finding ways to leverage some of the additional learning materials developed for classroom settings by adapting it to Canadian curriculum as well.
Why have you chosen Habitat as a partner?
- Biodiversity programmes at the Royal Ontario Museum strive to help our public better understand nature and to prevent its loss through communications, research, citizen science, and community engagement. A very significant portion of our visitors are kids, and engaging them in meaningful discussions about ecology and environmental issues is a major part of our mandate. We can see that the team behind Habitat feel the same, and believe that Habitat will be an excellent addition to the means in which we connect with youth.
How do games and interaction fit in with your gallery?
- Taking inspiration from our close working colleagues in the Hands-On Biodiversity and Discovery galleries, we know that facilitating inquiry-lead, hands-on discovery of our specimens and objects in the Life in Crisis: Schad Gallery of Biodiversity is an absolute must for meaningfully engaging visitors (of all ages).
- Furthermore, over the last few years our gallery has also been proud to support our ROM Game Jam program by hosting the ROM Arcade. The ROM Game Jam sees roughly 100 video game developers invited into the Museum and, working in teams, building a video game inspired by some aspect of our research and collections. Each year, the ROM Arcade is the testing ground for a select few of these games, where visitors/players can critique and share feedback with the developers, collaborating with them on improving the games.
How interested do you think kids are about the environment/climate change?
- In our experience, we’d say “very”! Most children have a deep-seated love of nature, of respect for wild creatures, and wonder at the “endless forms most beautiful” (and weird) that inhabit our world. And they also have very strong feelings about what is “fair”. And so as they become increasingly aware of the various environmental challenges we face as a global society, their desire to do something is strong.
Here is a table that shows the countries where our 149 pins are currently located.
We are continuing to add locations.
The aim is to create a local/global experience. Kids learn about the species, plants and areas that are local to them and trade their pins with other kids globally.
|Red Deer Stags||Scotland|
|Stone of Destiny||Scotland|
|White-Tailed Sea Eagle||Scotland|
|Standing Stones Circle||Scotland|
|Western Grey Kangaroo||Australia|
|Western Blue-tongue Skinks||Australia|
|Clown Fish||Australia, Malaysia, Japan, Papua New Guniea, Solomon Islands|
|Fallow Deer||England, Ireland, Iceland|
|Bald Eagle||USA, Canada|
|Manta Ray||USA, Hawaii, Australia, South Africa, Japan|
|Saltwater croc||Australia, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia|
|Brown Bear||USA, Canada, Russia, China, Sweden, Finland, Norway|
|California Sea Lion||USA, Mexico|
|Dolphins||Australia, USA, Mexico, Guatemala|
|Tundra, Polar Bear||USA|
|Sasha, Amur Tiger||USA|
|Indy, California Sea Lion||USA|
|Betty, Grizzly Bear||USA|
|Houdini, King Cobra||USA|
|Dexter, Magellanic Penguin||USA|
|Cortez, Red-Ruffed Lemur||USA|
|Opal, Silvered Leaf Monkey||USA|
|Tuti, Western Lowland Gorilla||USA|
|Kenya, White-Throated Bee-eater||USA|
|Leo, Baby Snow Leopard||USA|
|Jalak, Bali Mynah||USA|
|Charlie, California Sea Lion||USA|
|Dash, Gentoo Penguin||USA|
|Diver, Scaly-Sided Merganser||USA|
|Zoe, Snow Leopard||USA|
|Biru, Red Panda||USA|
|Sid, Babydool Sheep||USA|
|Dori, California Sea Lion||USA|
|Anura, Dart Poison Frog||USA|
|Kobo, Hamadryas Baboon||USA|
|Dakota, American Bison||USA|
|Spangles, Andean Bear||USA|
|Mable, Hyacinth Macaw||USA|
|Duke, California Sea Lion||USA|
|Nuka, Pacific Walrus||USA|
|Jacob, Sea Otter||USA|
|Leafcutter Ant||Costa Rica|
|Black howler monkey||Belize|
|Red-Eyed tree frog||Nicaragua|
|Amazon River dolphin||Brazil|
|Blue Morpho Butterfly||Costa Rica|
|Silver Fern||New Zealand|
|White Kiwi||New Zealand|
|NZ Fur Seal||New Zealand|
|Blue Cod||New Zealand|
|Little Blue Penguin||New Zealand|
|Sasa, Sun Bear||New Zealand|
|Black Oyster Catcher||New Zealand|
|Brown Kiwi||New Zealand|
|Long Finned Eel||New Zealand|
|People’s Climate March||USA|
|People’s Climate March||USA|
|Giant Panda||China, Hong Kong|
|Polar Bear||USA, Canada, Russia, Greenland, Norway|
|Amur tiger||Russia, Korea, China|
|King Cobra||India, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam|
|Magellanic penguin||Brazil, Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands|
|Red Ruffed Lemur||Madagascar|
|Silvered Leaf Monkey||Malaysia and Borneo|
|Western lowland gorilla||Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|White-throated bee-eater||Senegal and Uganda|
|Baby Snow leopard||Nepal, India, China, Russia, Pakistan|
|Gentoo Penguin||Falkland Islands, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand|
|Scaly-Sided Merganser||South Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Russia|
|Snow Leopard||Nepal, India, China, Russia, Pakistan|
|Red Panda||Bhutan, China, Myanma, India, Tibet|
|Poison Dart Frog||Bolivia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Panama and Hawaii|
|Hamadryas baboon||Jordan,Yemen and Saudi Arabia, Eritrea to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia|
|Andean Bear||Panama, Venezuela,Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina|
|Hyacinth Macaw||Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay|
|Pronghorn||USA, Canada, Mexico|
|Puma||Canada, USA, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile|
|Pacific Walrus||USA, Canada, Greenland, Russia|
|Sea Otter||USA, Canada, Japan, Russia, Mexico|
|Sun Bear||India, Thailand, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Laos, China|
Happy New Year Habitaters! We are hitting 2017 with force, starting with our largest and most significant update since the launch of Habitat the Game.
Habitat has always strived to connect our players to nature by encouraging them to get out and explore the world. Yet, we would be lying if we said we had not been inspired by Pokemon Go’s ability to get people outdoors.
That inspiration has led to a revamp of our unique pin system. Until today each pin would only appear in a single location. Now we can spread pins more widely, reaching more players.
Pin locations encourage players to explore their natural environment, from parks to waterways to urban green spaces. Players can collect pins that represent animals, locations or plants in their local areas and learn all about their pin.
These local pins can then be traded with other players from across the planet!
Our unique pin system incorporates exercise, education and gaming in the real world.
This new update combined with our recent surge in player numbers (15,000 in one day!) sets us up for a brilliant 2017.
We look forward to hearing from our players in the coming weeks! Please let us know places you think pins should appear in your neighborhood.
The summit will host 200 participants from across the globe. The attendees are meeting in West Virginia with the aim to develop a North American Framework for Action to inspire a new generation to experience nature.
Over the past four years we have developed software as part of a social game that rewards players for heading outdoors, colleting virtual pins and trading them with other players in the game.
To date we have worked with international partners including Environmental Organizations – lead by the WCS and the Rainforest Alliance, National Parks, Zoos and Tourism bodies to identify locations for players to visit (now in 16 countries) http://www.habitatthegame.com/pins/
Here are some articles about the experience Habitat created from parents perspective:
And some articles about the App –using games and technology to get kids outside:
Through the app we can see where kids have been exploring. This map shows the kids in both Wellington NZ in the last 90 days and the pin locations:
We are looking forward to the summit to exploring what the next steps may be. Can we expand our partnerships to reach more kids around the world? Or should we be looking at using the technology as part of a new platform?
We know technology is just one way we can inspire the next generation to get outdoors and I am looking forward to brainstorming the ways in which we may inspire this next generation.
Meet Habitat’s Pin Hunters and check out the awesome sunny day that we had in Denver’s City Park for Get Outdoors Day.
It is National Outdoors Month in the USA. Enjoy the warm weather and let us know if you come across any Habitat pins on your adventures. Post your findings on social media using the hashtag #HabitatPinHunter.
This week the Habitat team caught up with the University of Washington’s resident climate scientist Associate Professor Dargan Frierson.
Dargan was nice enough to write a couple of new questions for the game. Every time players answer one of his questions correctly they will be learning about climate science and receive Habitat points. We thought we should find out a little about what it was like to be a climate scientist.
Tell us a little about your job?
I’m an associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at University of Washington. I do research on climate and climate change. I lead a group of students and researchers who study questions like “Why are deserts and rainy regions located where they are? How will rainfall patterns change in the future?” I also teach classes in atmospheric science. I especially enjoy teaching the big global warming class for non-scientists.
What made you want to get into climate science?
I grew up on the coast of North Carolina, so hurricanes were a big part of my childhood. When I was in college, Hurricane Floyd hit, which was by far the biggest one we had ever experienced. After seeing all the destruction from that hurricane, I wanted to know whether storms like that will happen more in the future.
What do you think is least understood about climate science?
The least understood part of climate science is not actually about the science, it’s about scientists. Most people think that there’s a lot of disagreement about climate change, but actually over 97% of climate scientists agree that global warming is happening and that it’s due to humans. When you look at the scientific data about our planet, this isn’t surprising. We have increased greenhouse gas levels by a tremendous amount, and they’re definitely causing the climate to change.
How do you see kids engaging with information on the climate and environment? Is their attitude different from adults?
I think kids can envision a totally different future much better than adults. So they have the inspiration and energy that is needed to build a greener planet.
Tell us a little about why you are hopeful?
The recent expansion of alternative energy gives me a lot of hope. For instance, the world is producing over 100 times as much solar energy as in the year 2000! It also makes me feel hopeful to meet people who care about climate change and are doing something about it.
Do you think games can play a role in climate change?
Yes! When I was a kid, games like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego and SimEarth helped me get excited about learning about the planet. I think games can be especially effective in teaching about climate change, where it’s often hard to see the consequences of your own actions. This is why I was really excited to be able to contribute some content to Habitat!
Habitat is celebrating its partnership with Wilderquest. We caught up with Amy Wardrop who is WilderQuest’s Digital Project Manager for Visitor Experience and Education at the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
In the game Habitat rewards players for visiting real world locations. We have been working with tourism bodies such as Scotland, Western Australia, New Zealand plus National Parks and Zoos around the world. We now have 160 locations in 15 countries.
The virtual pins collected at these sites can also be traded with players around the world.
To find out more about how to trade pins you can watch our tutorial at:
Yesterday we posted a picture about sustainable seafood options on Instagram:
We then received a fantastic email from Rose Anthes who is in Year 6 at Canterbury Public School Sydney Australia. She is a budding, talented young writer and she sent us her short story called “No More Soup” check it out below.
Well done to Rose and if there are any other Habitaters out there that want to send us their environmental stories email us at info (at) habitathegame.com
NO MORE SOUP
On the corner of a main road in Beijing, China, a tall man and his daughter are seated at a lacquered table in one of China’s most leading restaurant chains. The daughter goes to the bathroom, while the man orders the soup of the day. ‘This is delicious’ he exclaims to the waiter, “Where did you get it?” his daughter comes back from the restroom and places her hands on her father’s shoulders, determined to hear the story too.
Silvery scales glide past my sleek, huge body as I stalk my prey, a whiskered seal silently. One chomp of my colossal jaws end its tinny life and I feast on the meat, letting the bloody entrails drop into the darkness below my pride and joy, my gigantuan great white shark body and lower fins. I hunger for more, much more. The shallow, calm waters of the wide bay call me, promising easy hunting. The bay lures me, and I find myself sliding through the water in the general direction of the bay. The scent of blood enters my nose and brain, confusing me, but getting stronger at every metre I pass.
Something swift passes me by. I turn my large head and snap at it, hoping for some bigger prey. It is only a tuna and I snort in disappointment, but eat it anyway. It does little to satisfy my hunger. . A fishing boat passes atop me, darkening the water with its shadow. Inquisitive about the scent of blood, which source I have not found yet draws me in. Creating a bloody halo for the scene in front of my eyes, shafts of sunlight shine through the clouded water. A dead shark, much smaller than me lies on the sandy bottom of the ocean.
Apon inspecting closer, I see that the shark’s fin had been hacked off unprofessionally, causing it to drown. I knew that the shark had been killed recently, due to the blood still weeping from the fatal wound. That meant than the Chinese ships were still in the area. I turned and sped away into the gloom, away from the place of death and away from he bay. I made a tiny dinner of small, bony fish and stayed alert all night.
As a pale dawn light shows in the east, I set off to find breakfast. My sharp senses told me that there was a colony of seals basking in the sunlight on a rocky island to the south of the kill site. I made my way there and managed to pick of a few at the edges while the doomed seals that were destined to be eaten by me were sleeping.
After feasting on the seal’s succulent meat, I took to patrolling the ocean for the Chinese ship, ready to give them an unpleasant surprize when it came to it.
I entered the bay, sure that I was going to see that hateful ship anchored there at this hour. In stead I had a shock when I realised that the ship wasn’t there, but in stead there it was behind me, forcing me into the wide, shallow, but now deadly bay. Some of the despised men who were good shots threw a rough, but strong net over me and I struggled to get free from the dark, tarred and tough strings. Behind me the men hooted and whistled, surprized at my size, now that I had been forced to the surface. A man who was surprisingly almost half as big as me hauled me up and over the wooden rail and onto the splintery deck. One of the hated humans took a knife from a table and started to walk towards me. The keen blade glinted in his hand as he started to saw at my fin. Agony spread through my body, emanating out from the place were my fin used to be. I saw that beautiful, silvery part of my body that had been severed in the hands of greedy mankind and then, the two twin giant mountains of people rolled me off the tarp I had been lying and bleeding on and into the harsh, unforgiving sea. Laughing, they watched and did nothing as I sank in to the waves and to death, never to be seen by the greedy mankind again.
“I am not hungry anymore, father” replies the girl calmly and they leave the fancy Chinese restaurant forever