Bringing Students Closer to Nature through Technology

Location: Guana Tolomato Matanzas Reserve

In an increasingly digital world, educators sometimes struggle to get students to put down their devices and get outside to explore the world of science in the natural environment. Instead of fighting technology, education staff members at Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, have embraced it as an igniter to spark students’ interest in environmental science. “We are past the point of telling students to put down the devices,” said Kenneth Rainer, director of education. “It's time to show them how to use it as a resource, as the powerful tool that it really is.”

Through the use of devices such as water quality probes, students are able to read measurements of various environmental elements. In addition, students can explore components and details of the estuarine water column—an area otherwise inaccessible—with underwater cameras. Data and video are transmitted to Google apps on iPads in the field. Driven by their strong attraction to the technology, students are more willing to engage with the science and environmental education offered at the reserve.

Students at Guana Tolomato Matanzas Reserve
Students at Guana Tolomato Matanzas Reserve use iPads to read real-time field data.