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Creativity

10 ideas to nurture a nature-loving digital maker over the holidays

As the nights draw in during autumn, young people’s dedicated screen time generally increase as they spend more time indoors. Here’s a plethora of ideas to get your kids active, creative, hands-on as well as outdoors.

Every parent has experienced failing to get their child’s attention, despite calling their name numerous times, lost as they are to their immediate surroundings. Increasingly people make the assumption that technology keeps young people indoors despite the fact that technology can be harnessed to increase their engagement with nature.

Fire Tech are super keen to nurture a generation of nature-loving digital makers. Following on from this summer’s focus across our courses to reduce ocean plastic, the Fire Tech team have been playing with some fantastic out-of-the-box technology.

Our list of ten ideas actively use the mobile phones that many young people won’t be without and celebrate physical computing and electronics to create interactive devices on their own or with their friends or family.

These ideas serve as Autumn half-term holiday activities as well as make innovative Xmas gifts for you organised folk. Young people under the age of 11 will need a facilitator to undertake the projects.

  1. Moisture sensor– using the micro:bit’s onboard microprocessor and sensors, this project uses just two crocodile clips and two nails and some neat code to test the level of moisture in soil.



  2. Geocaching – Think digital treasure hunt – this activity never fails to disappoint. Young people use the Global Positioning System (GPS) on their mobile phones to explore hidden treasure. Organisations such as the National Trust have been working with geocaching as a way of successfully engaging young audiences.

  3. Starwalk 2 – go out at night and stargaze using an early form of Augmented Reality (AR) for real immediacy and a wonderfully meditative experience.



  4. May Fly – created by the fantastically inspired artist collective Stand + Stare, this app record sounds bites which can be triggered using image recognition from a phone’s camera. You can apply their sticker illustrations to any object to activate the sounds and create living journals, museums and narratives.



  5. Wildlife Documentary – study and capture wildlife using a flexible tripod and an clip-on macro lens to an everyday mobile phone. Using remote capture means budding film-makers can get up close to nature without nature suspecting!

  6. 3D scanning – the Structure Sensor is a reliable 3D scanner which attaches to an iPad, scanning at a high resolution resolution. Digitise strong 3D forms such as pinecones and shells to use in design software.



  7. Treasure trail – using a cypher created by Julian Caesar to communicate with his army in code to foil his enemies, create a treasure trail using cryptography. Get them out of their gaming chairs to crack code.

  8. Paper Circuit – create a firefly using an LED (Light Emitting Diode), copper tape and a coin cell battery operated with a paper switch. Incorporating electronics and craft material, site nocturnal animal in the garden using garden pegs.



  9. Night vision camera – be warned, this hack is not reversible! Take apart an old phone using an LED and crocodile clips to create a nighttime activity. Or simple install a night vision app with thermo vision as well.

  10. Camera trap – this hack enables you to control and receive images of animals using your mobile phone using a standard security camera.