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Mobile Computing | News

Arizona Project WET's Discovery Program Develops STEM Literacy with QR Codes

Arizona Project WET, an initiative of the University of Arizona that seeks to develop water stewardship and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) literacy among K-12 students, has launched a project that uses smartphones to guide participants through a habitat restoration area.

Dubbed the Discovery Program, the project features four "journeys" that use color-coded QR codes on signs to guide teachers, students and the public through the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area and "spark questions about their local natural environment," according to a news release.

Each journey allows participants to act as a different kind of scientist and each sign features a question, ideas, photos and directions to the next sign.

"The journeys ask people questions like, 'How do these trees survive in the Phoenix environment?' or 'How much water is in the pond next to the parking lot?'" said Kerry Schwartz, Arizona Project WET director, in a prepared statement. "We want people to think and talk about how they'll answer each question and what kinds of information they'll need to find an answer, and then we ask them to submit their scientific conclusions online."

"Instead of just looking at the Rio Salado Area, visitors go on a thinking journey, individually and as a group," Schwartz added. "We want them to really see nature and learn about it, and develop a scientific curiosity that can extend to other places they visit."

The program is easily transferable to any natural area, according to a news release, requiring approximately $3,000 and less than a month to install the required signs.

"We want people to explore and think through a question that starts with 'I wonder …' and then hopefully learn something new about the nature in their own community," said Schwartz. "The Discovery Program presents a unique opportunity for students, teachers and families to think through questions about their surroundings in a systematic, scientific way by taking advantage of a new technology."

More information about Arizona Project WET is available at arizonawet.arizona.edu.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is the multimedia editor for Campus Technology and THE Journal. He can be reached at jbolkan@1105media.com.

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