Library notes: ecoEXPLORE encourages kids to enjoy the outdoors

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 23, 2020

By Hope Loman
Rowan Public Library

Last fall at the North Carolina Library Association Convention, I happened to pass by a booth in the vendor hall that advertised a new program provided by The NC Arboretum called ecoEXPLORE. Intrigued at the bright colors of their display and shiny promotional flyers, I stopped to listen to the spiel of the person manning the booth. Within 30 seconds, I knew that this would be a wonderful children’s program to promote at the Rowan Public Library.

Shortly after arriving home from the NCLA conference, I applied for the RPL South Branch to become an ecoEXPLORE Hotspot; with the large backyard, creek, and the park across the street, it had the most opportunities out of all of the branches for patrons to explore nature. After waiting for several months to hear back, I found out that we had been approved as an official ecoEXPLORE site.

So what is ecoEXPLORE? According to their website, it is “an incentive-based citizen science program for children in grades K-8…(that) combines science exploration with kid-friendly technology….encouraging (kids) to explore the outdoors.” Basically, think of it as a nature-themed spin on Pokemon Go, where children use their own device to take pictures of different animals or plants, and then share the pictures to their profile. ecoEXPLORE staff review the pictures and assign points, which can be traded in for various prizes, including iPod touches, digital cameras, and binoculars. All approved submissions are sent to the iNaturalist Network and used by real scientists to classify plant and animal species all over the world.

If this sounds like something your child might enjoy, I encourage you to register for our Sept. 30 program virtual program with ecoEXPLORE, where a representative will discuss entomology, the study of bugs, and give more information about how to become an ecoEXPLORE scientist. You can contact me at and I will provide a Zoom link closer to the date of the program.

In the meantime, here are some fun nature-themed titles at the library that your whole family will enjoy:

  • “Nature’s Ninja: Animals with Spectacular Skills” by Rebecca Johnson – Learn about the ninja-like talents of animals like geckos and about the scientists studying them.
  • “Entomologists in Action” by Anne Rooney — See how entomologists apply the principles of science as they research the world’s 1.3 million insect species.
  • “The Wonders of Nature” by Ben Hoare — Learn about over 100 remarkable creature and mineral species from nature and key facts about their natural history.
  • “Nature’s Day Out and About: Spotting, Making and Collecting Activities” by Kay Maguire — This book shows how young adventurers can connect with nature whatever seasons it is, from sowing seeds to making ice sculptures.
  • “Outdoor Math: Fun Activities for Every Season” by Emma Adbage — Children can learn about shapes, time, patterns, and more by going outside and interacting with the natural world in these simple activities.
  • “Outdoor Photography” by John Hamilton — Young photographers can learn the history of landscape photography and how to take great landscape and wildlife pictures by finding out photography basics.

Hope Loman is the children’s room supervisor at Rowan Public Library.

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