The WildLab engages citizen scientists in bird and other wildlife identification, using mobile phones as tools of scientific discovery. Along with associated curricula and educational activities found on its website, the WildLab is a powerful new way to see the environment.
The WildLab Bird iPhone app includes photographs, audio, and range maps for more than 200 common bird species. The app helps users make correct identifications by leading them through a process of elimination. The application saves each sighting with location and other data, and sightings are logged in the user’s online WildLab account. Files based on a user's sightings can be easily loaded into Cornell Lab of Ornithology's eBird database.
In a pilot program developed with funding from the MacArthur Foundation, more than 500 New York City 5th- through 12th-grade students used iPhones to log thousands of bird sightings from nearby parks and green spaces. Participants in the project increased their knowledge as well as their interest in science careers. All educators involved in the project said they would participate again if it was offered in the future.
The WildLab has also piloted a program with the Cornell Cooperative Extension for horseshoe crab monitoring; this app will be available soon in the app store. Through collaborations with science education institutions around the country, the WildLab continues to develop new apps and will run its in-school bird program this fall.