For the tree enthusiast in you, Leafsnap is an electronic, mobile field guide that uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves. It engages people of all ages to use photography in identifying leaves and flowers or buds. Soon, there will be an app for Android users as well.
There are several features available in this app. With the Browse feature, you can search for images of leaves, flowers, or fruit of various tree species. Or, you can choose the Nearby Species feature to see what, if any, tree species have been identified by another Leafsnap user in your region. The Collection feature is where you can place photos of leaves, flowers, or fruit that you have taken with your mobile device and you can take those photos using the Snap It feature. Once you've taken a picture, Leafsnap instantly searches a library of images put together by the Smithsonian Institution. It returns a possible species name, high-resolution photographs, and information on the tree's flowers, fruit, seeds, and bark.
This field guide app can be used with students of all ages to help them with any field work they may do. With younger students, you could use the app in conjunction with a leaf hunt. They could try to take photos of the leaves while outside or bring leaf specimens back inside where they can take photos and try to identify the species. You could probably set up your own class collection of the photos your students take.
With older students, the app could be used as a tool to help with the classification and identification of plants. Encourage students to use both the common names and scientific names of species as well as identify the leaves, flowers, and fruits.
You also may want to explore how your students can contribute to scientific research with this app. Images and tree identifications are automatically sent with mapping information from the mobile device to Leafsnap's database. Scientists hope that data eventually could be used to map and monitor the growth and decline of tree populations.
With more and more schools incorporating project-based learning, LeafSnap fits right into the curriculum.
Look At Those Leaves!
K-2 | Hands-On
Identification and Classification of Grassland Plants
The Wild Trees
9-12 | Audio
The Amateur Naturalist
3-12 | Website
Project BudBurst App
6-12 | Interactive