Can Technology Save Endangered Species?

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Kids raise and release the endangered Lahontan cutthroat trout in Truckee, California as part of Project Hero. Photo courtesy the Captain Planet Foundation

Ever since my brother and I started One More Generation (OMG) back in 2009, we have been amazed as to how people around the world have been coming up with ways to get technology to help them save animals.

We have seen first-hand how the app Latest Sightings (which we reported about in our article “To Vietnam and Back… to Save Rhinos“) is helping rangers get to injured animals faster so they can administer first aid quicker. We have even seen how several organizations have created their own version of a ‘palm oil app‘ that educates consumers on which products they buy contain palm oil and educates them on the massive deforestation the palm oil industry is causing and how that is pushing species like orangutans to the brink of extinction.

Before my brother and I could start OMG, our parents told us we had to research the problem of species extinction. We did our homework online, spending hours searching lots of different websites to find what we needed. What if the next time kids like us asked what they could do to help a species in trouble they had a fun and easy way to find an answer, and it even got them outside?

Student examining an owl pellet as part of the curriculum created for the 'Project Hero' program which is designed to teach students to help save endangered species. Photo courtesy of The Captain Planet Foundation

Here, a student examines an owl pellet to learn about food webs as part of Project Hero, a program where kids perform environmental service-learning projects on behalf of endangered species. Photo courtesy the Captain Planet Foundation

Technology is so much a part of our lives now that we can’t even imagine what life was like without it—though our parents try to tell us! The downside many kids are seeing is that it’s becoming easier to feel more connected to what’s on the screen than to nature in our yard or park. The upside is that technology lets us make friends on the other side of the globe, learn in lots of different ways, and find amazing information being shared around the world.

Our friends at the Captain Planet Foundation think there is a way to combine the online and natural worlds for action, using an online experience to get us fired up to be outside and helping species in need. They started a quest last year with a dozen other conservation groups (like National Wildlife Federation, E.O Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, the Center for Biological Diversity, The Nature Conservancy, and others) to build this blended experience—and Project Hero is the result.

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This young man made a cool helmet to act out his role as a gopher frog in his team’s plea to get his class to vote for the gopher frog as their chosen endangered species 😉 Photo courtesy the Captain Planet Foundation

Project Hero is all about making it easy and fun for kids to learn what ecosystems and species near them are in trouble, and then become heroes for those species.

You will be able to use Project Hero with your class at school, with friends, or just by yourself. You’ll use your screen to find out what’s in danger, what’s causing it, who else is doing something about it, and what you can do to build your hero powers and be part of the solution. The Hero Society of conservation experts will be one click away, ready to share the cool things they know about species and how you can help them. You’ll start the hero mission on a screen, but only complete the mission by getting outside, which Carter and I think is great.

Elementary School at Griffin Elementary in Cooper City, FL working with Audubon to build nests for the endangered Burrowing Owl.

Griffin Elementary School in Cooper City, Florida, works with Audubon to build nests for the endangered burrowing owl. Photo courtesy the Captain Planet Foundation

Kids are testing the latest version of Project Hero now in a couple of schools around Atlanta, Georgia, and it will be available around the U.S. by late summer. If you are interested in bringing Project Hero to your school, click here for all the latest news from our friends at the Captain Planet Foundation and remember, The Power is Yours to make a difference.

Stay tuned for next week’s article titled “In A Perfect World…” about two amazingly passionate people who are truly making a difference.

 Olivia Ries is our Nat Geo Youth Empowerment writer. Together with her brother Carter, she hopes to inspire others to realize that “Anybody can make a difference… if they can, you can too.”  Make sure to check out their website at OneMoreGeneration.org

3 responses to “Can Technology Save Endangered Species?

  1. wow am loving what OMG is doing. Am kenyan where we have a number of rhinos but realy endangered.
    I want to start an online campaign against poaching.I wouldn’t mind ideas from you on how to start am 19

    Like

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