Natural History Museum launches Dippy’s Naturenauts mobile app

The Natural History Museum has launched Dippy’s Naturenauts, a mobile app to coax children into nature with a series of interactive web enabled features.

Dippy’s Naturenauts harnesses the internet to create an interactive outdoor experience for children.

The app aims to support the museum’s UK-wide tour of its iconic dinosaur – Dippy the Diplodocus. Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure hopes to encourage families to explore outside world, no matter whether they live in the depths of the country or in the heart of the city.

The educational app is designed for children aged four and over. It has been developed in partnership with Dell EMC and in association with Intel and Microsoft.

The technology aims for parental peace of mind. It offers ‘app-like’ functionality on smart phones and tablets, through a web browser. Once the content has been loaded, the app is fully functional offline. The app also takes no data away from the handset, protecting the user’s privacy and limiting data usage charges.

Wide range of nature-based activities

Dippy and Fern the fox lead children through a range of games. Activities include:

  • A ‘tree safari’ guiding children to make virtual bark rubbings using their phones’ cameras.
  • ‘Feathered friends’ is an introduction to bird identification – using appearance and song to identify native species.
  • ‘Colour hunter’ inspires children to notice the amazing colours in nature. Children find things (sky, leaves etc.) that match selected shades and tones on a digital colour chart.
  • In ‘Petal quest’ scientific identification techniques are used to compare photographs of flowers to an in-app library.

Children will create their own avatars and, as they complete challenges, they will unlock badges and new pages in a personalised digital storybook.

‘Research has consistently outlined the major benefits for children from being outside in nature,” says Piers Jones, Chief Product and Digital Officer at the Natural History Museum. “Yet more than 90 per cent of the population has been urbanised and the chances of any child visiting a green space has been halved in a generation.”

Studies show that if children don’t encounter nature they develop low expectations of the natural world and a poor appreciation of plants and animals in the UK. The knock-on effect is that they care little for conservation.

“For all these reasons, the Museum believes finding new ways to ignite curiosity in and understanding of the natural world has never been more vital,” continues Jones. “This progressive web app, like Dippy on Tour, will help engage children with the nature on their doorstep and encourage them to explore, discover and want to protect the world around them.”

‘Dippy’s Naturenauts harnesses the entertainment value of mobile devices which, with the help of parents, enables children to use these devices as a gateway to the natural world,” says Claire Vyvyan, Senior Vice President UK&I Commercial, Dell EMC. “As leaders in technology, it’s our responsibility to inspire young individuals and help them to understand the exciting opportunities that a career in STEM holds; and of course, the power of technology to drive common good and human progress. This app is a great example of how we can encourage engagement with nature, through the power of digital technology.”