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.
Sometimes the best way to learn about our earth and the species which inhabit this planet is by experiencing it. While HABITAT is essentially a game, it is more importantly a dynamic learning tool with real implications. A game where schools, classes, teachers and individual students and their families can actively participate in exploring, discovering, learning, acting and bringing about positive environmental change.
HABITAT is attuned to the Australian Science Curriculum for students in years K-6 and thereby asks questions about the world in which we live. It nurtures curiosity, offers inquiry problem solving situations and develops a solid foundation of knowledge that students can apply to real life – in particular their own life.
Sustainability is an embedded theme in HABITAT and therefore is relevant to all K-6 learning levels. It provides the platform to ascertain our collective and individual impact on the earth’s sustainability. Importantly HABITAT is a comprehensive educational resource that engenders active and environmentally responsible global citizens while being engaging and fun.
Specifically HABITAT is relevant to the Australian Science Curriculum in the following topics:
‘Years K–2 (typically from 5 to 8 years of age)
Curriculum focus: awareness of self and the local world
- Questioning and speculation
Years 3–6 (typically from 8 to 12 years of age)
Curriculum focus: recognising questions that can be investigated scientifically and investigating them.
Building on the unifying ideas of exploration, observation, order, change, questioning and speculation, the unifying ideas of this age range are:
- Evidence and explanations’
Draft Consultation version 1.1.0 Australian Curriculum
ACARA Australian Curriculum Consultation Portal 14/07/2010 6
Classroom syllabus topics relevant to the curriculum can be applied to the learning of:
- Threatened species
- Endangered species
- Animal physical characteristics
- Diet and food consumption
- Breeding and population
- Habitats and needs
- Geographical regions
- Environment protection