BUFFALO NY - Nature and technology seem to be strange bedfellows, but a fledgling program called "Ten By Ten" strives to marry the two in an effort to educate children about the environment.
"The essential idea is, we'd like to have children by age ten, to be able to identify ten different families of birds, trees, wildflowers, ten different constellations, and we're going to expand out from there," said Chris Hollister, one of the program's co-authors.
"We want to get the kids outdoors, that's one of the central features of the program, of course," explains Gerry Rising, another co-author. "But we also want them to be able to tie it in with their regular life achievements, and the computer of course, is one of those things that they know better than we do."
The learning begins with specially written books that cover topics from trees to insects. Students at Tifft Nature Preserve began their journey by learning about birds.
"I learned a lot about different bird groups because we were using the Ten by Ten, so whenever we'd see a new bird I would look in the Ten by Ten book , and then I would see the bird, and then I would see it in the category and mark it off on the chart Miss Kimberly made," said Daisy Cook, an enthusiastic student of Ten By Ten
After being guided through the books, they headed outside to do some bird watching. Once they have completed the field portion of their education, Rising says they can go online for the next step.
"They then can go onto the computer, sign on to the Ten by Ten website and have their names listed as one of the youngsters achieving the challenge. They also can print out a diploma that lists them as a neophyte Ornithologist," Rising.
"I think that's kind of cool because if you're not graduating from anything you don't really get a diploma so when you do that it's kind of an accomplishment and it's really exciting," said Cook.
Rising says the program is also designed to include parents.
"It will work best when a parent is working with the youngster. The parent can give them some guidance, encourage them to go on, not necessarily help with the identification, but get them out, take them to the park where they can see the birds or the insects, the wildflowers and so on," said Rising.
Though it's early, the Ten By Ten program is already influencing young students to become better stewards of the planet. "It's really nice because we need to do more," said Cook. "because we don't have much left of our Earth. We've kind of run it all dry, so we need to do more."
"They're not going to all become bird watchers, or Entomologists or Silviculturists," said Rising. "One or two of them, Daisy, will do that kind of thing, and the rest have been exposed so they'll carry that exposure in their activities for the rest of their lives."
If you'd like to learn more about this program, click here.