Biodiversity quest brings Bouchet Academy youth together to create endangered species mobile scavenger hunts

Event Celebrates Culmination of New Partnership and Program to Educate Sixth- and Seventh-Grade Students About Biodiversity/Digital Media

For the first time, a new endangered species educational program, Biodiversity Quest, has been developed for sixth- and seventh-grade students to support their exploration of Chicago’s free Lincoln Park Zoo. Designed by the Pearson Foundation’s New Learning Institute, Wildscreen USA’s ARKive Project, the Jane Goodall Institute-Illinois and the Bouchet Academy, Biodiversity Quest brought students from Bouchet Academy together for eight weeks to learn about biodiversity and threats to endangered species. The participating students were members of Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, the Jane Goodall Institute’s global environmental and humanitarian program for young people from preschool through university and beyond.

As a part of this new endangered species educational program, students created “quests” designed as mobile scavenger hunts that can be played using smart-phones. Each quest has a biodiversity or endangered species theme, draws connections between specific exhibits at the zoo, and suggests actions that can help protect species from extinction. Over the course of the pilot program, the students created five new quests ranging in name from “Species Threatened Globally” and “Majestic Birds That Take Flight” to “Fluffy Meat Chompers,” which focused on carnivores like lions, tigers and bears.

"We are thrilled to recognize the amazing efforts and talents of the students from Bouchet Academy” said Credell Walls, Illinois state coordinator for the Jane Goodall Institute. “It is of critical importance that we raise awareness about the threats facing wildlife all over the world and what students can do right now to help protect endangered species.”

The design of the quests provided a creative hands-on framework and technology to excite the students’ interest in learning about endangered animals and the challenges they face in the wild. Students also learned how to use technology to educate the public about protecting species from extinction. Through their participation in the program, the students were able to apply the knowledge they gained and learn how to use new technologies to inform others.

Throughout the course of the program, the students were consistently engaged and interested in the workshops and in developing their quests. Facilitators even noticed that during breaks between workshops, the students continued to research or work on their quests rather than texting, posting on Facebook or doing activities outside the scope of the program.


 

Earlier this month, an event was held at Bouchet Academy and Lincoln Park Zoo to showcase the work of the students and to view and play the mobile scavenger hunts created during the Biodiversity Quest program. At the Bouchet Academy portion of the celebration, each student group designated a spokesperson to stand in front of the audience to share the concept of the group’s quest. Afterwards, the students and attendees traveled to Lincoln Park Zoo where the students led their families and friends through their quests.

“Giving students a chance to make use of the mobile and digital tools they use every day, changes the way they think about learning,” said Pearson Foundation president Mark Nieker. “In addition to giving participants a way to learn more themselves, the Biodiversity Quest program also shows how important it is for young people to be able to share what they know with others in their school and their community.”

The celebration of the Biodiversity Quest program comes at an exciting time for Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots. February 2011 marked Roots & Shoots’ 20th anniversary. Twenty years ago, Dr. Jane Goodall and a group of Tanzanian students started what has become an international movement of young people dedicated to creating a better world. Today in more than 120 countries, hundreds of thousands of Roots & Shoots members work together on youth-led service projects to improve communities and to make the world better for people, animals and the environment we all share. For more information on the 20th anniversary of Roots & Shoots, please visit www.rootsandshoots.org/campaigns/20thanniversary.
 

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