In 2011, the New Learning Institute launched the Biodiversity Quest program to challenge young people to create mobile experiences, also known as quests, at Lincoln Park Zoo. Designed in collaboration with Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots and the ARKive project, these youth-designed quests will aim to educate other young visitors about endangered species, as well as show them how they can take action to help save the planet’s threatened and endangered species.

Check the excellent video here on the website of the New Learning Institute.

About the program

Biodiversity Quest was an eight-week after school program held at Bouchet Math and Science Academy on the South Side of Chicago. Over the course of the workshops, sixth and seventh grade students designed mobile quests, built online using 7scenes (the technology platform we have built the Mobile Learning Academy with) and played them using GPS-enabled smartphones. These student-designed quests were played by the students and their family and friends during a visit to the zoo, helping them draw connections between exhibits. As the groups played a quest on their smartphones, GPS-tagged clues, including photos, videos, information, or simple quiz questions, popped up on their screen when they reached predetermined spots.

Student projects

Examples of the themes the participants developed include:

Engaging, hands-on experience

We worked closely with NLI and partners to design a program framework that provided an engaging, hands-on experience for the youth participants to explore the challenges wildlife face around the world and what people can do to protect them. Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program helped structure the workshops with their model of moving young people from knowledge to compassion and into taking action, making a difference for people, animals, and the environment we share. Working with our platform hooked the students’ interest and facilitated their learning of new research and design skills, while in the end, the issues of biodiversity and the urgency to preserve threatened and endangered species captured the students’ attention.