Using Cell Phones for Science

Marin high school students use their cell phones to participate in Redwood Watch, our citizen science program.
Marin high school students use their cell phones to participate in Redwood Watch, our citizen science program.

These days, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that many people spend more time on their cell phones — checking email, posting to Facebook, playing games— than they do out in nature. This trend seems especially prevalent among our youth.  So, if we now have new generations who don’t know how to leave home without their phones, why not have them use their phones out in nature?

This is exactly what 24 high school students from Marin did last month as they hiked the trails of Roy’s Redwoods Preserve and Samuel P. Taylor State Park. These students were participating in a program through Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. This Montana-based organization provides opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to contribute to real scientific research by collecting data, which  scientists then use to make informed decisions about land management issues.

Marin high school students collect data for Redwood Watch.While the students explored the redwood forests, cell phones in hand, they collected important information on redwood and plant species distribution for the League. They mapped the location of redwood trees in the forest by taking pictures of the trees, making observations on the surrounding environment and collecting tree circumference measurements. All of this data is used by the League to better understand species diversity in our redwood forests, and to track redwoods’ distribution throughout their range.

This experience allowed these students to spend the day in nature, contribute to scientific research, and use their phones to do what they do best: spread the word. And now, they are equipped to continue collecting scientific research for the League whenever they are out exploring the forest on their own.

Who knew the day would come when a cell phone would become such a useful piece of equipment  for field research?

You can help the League with our scientific research! Participate in our citizen science program Redwood Watch and help us track redwood trees.

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About the author

Deborah joined the League's staff in 2013 as the Education & Interpretation Manager. She brings with her extensive experience teaching science, developing curriculum and connecting kids to the natural world.

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