Education ForumScience Education

Digital nature: Are field trips a thing of the past?

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Science  20 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6361, pp. 298-300
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao1919

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I awoke in my cabin by the pond. Weighing my options for the day, I decided to do some bird watching, winding between white pines and blackberries along the east shore of the pond. By their songs, I was able to identify a Mourning Dove, Blue Jays, an American Crow, and perhaps a Northern Cardinal. A mink, alarmed by my approach, dove into the pond and swam off. Unable to resist on such a sunny day, I waded into the pond and watched the sunlight play around me in the shallows. My mood that morning was appropriately reflected by my status indicators: moderately inspired, tired, and hungry. My hike took place in Walden, a Game, a video game recently launched on the 200th birthday of Henry David Thoreau (1). With a widening niche of such nature-themed video games and simulations and a rapidly growing audience of online/digital learners, the capacity to reach new audiences and carry environmental education beyond the confines of schools and universities may be a game changer, but one that perhaps comes with perils.