We have been using Project Noah, an award-winning software platform designed to help people reconnect with the natural world, since it was first launched in early 2010. The project began as an experiment to mobilize citizen scientists and build a digital butterfly net for the 21st century. Backed by National Geographic, Project Noah is mobilizing a new generation of nature explorers and helping people from around the world appreciate their local wildlife.
We love how the Project Noah community is harnessing the power and popularity of new mobile technologies to collect important ecological data and help preserve global biodiversity. In addition to providing a tool for ecological data collection, it is also an important educational tool for wildlife awareness and preservation. Contributors the world over are able to share their experiences and communicate with one another about a shared interest.
One of our favorite things about Project Noah are the virtual badges. The patches were influenced by the merit badges from the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts. These patches help identify the specific strengths of the members. They also encourage new members to continue contributing to the project. Ultimately, earning patches is a fun way to encourage kids to get outdoors or as a reward for their efforts. Project Noah badges are divided up into four categories:
Spottings patches are earned by the number of spottings you’ve contributed overall to Project Noah.
To earn Mission patches you’ll have to join and contribute spottings to specific missions that have special requirements on the category and type of submissions they’re looking for.
Special Achievements are earned through interesting relationships between the spottings you submit. For example, if you upload spottings from at least three countries you will earn the Globe Spotter.
Specialist patches are reserved for people who submit a significant amount of spottings for a specific wildlife category. For example, if you upload a significant number of fungi spottings you will be deemed a specialist in that category.
We like to print the Project Noah badges we have earned onto sticker paper and adhere them to the inside cover of our nature journals. My journal is pictured above and shows the Specialist and Spotting patches we have earned thus far (Missions and Special Achievements are on the back cover). It is a fun way to document our contributions to the site as well as celebrate our explorations of our natural world.
I have dabbled with creating my own missions for online courses I teach and for localized classes I coordinate for homeschool kids. I have come to learn, however, that user created missions are designed for small groups, classrooms, and individual users and are thereby only local missions. As such, participants do not earn a mission patch. Larger organization will need to contact Project Noah directly if interested in setting up a custom mission and thereby tapping into the global community of citizen scientists.