NatGeo and Verizon use Tech to Immerse Kids in Hawai‘ian nature at the 2015 BioBlitz

National Geographic and the Big Island of Hawai‘i welcomed thousands to the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park for the 2015 BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival on May 15-16. Nature explorers including students, teachers, families and volunteer scientists combed the park to identify as many plants and animals as possible during the 24-hour Verizon-sponsored event.

Exploring the past, present and future, the NatGeo BioBlitz and Cultural Festival combined modern science with traditional Hawai‘ian culture. Verizon propelled the student-scientists and helped them connect with nature using 40 smart devices on the company’s reliable 4G LTE network to inventory the biodiversity within the living museum.

“Learning doesn’t happen only in the classroom – it happens wherever students are,” said Verizon’s John Johnson. “The BioBlitz is the perfect example of how mobile technology can supercharge learning anytime, anywhere by using the devices kids love in a hands-on activity to explore nature.  That creates a powerful and memorable learning experience, and really demonstrates the promise of today’s connected digital world.”

With eyes to the ground, explorers identified and documented almost 10 times the number of previously recorded fungal species in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Twenty-two new species were added to the park’s species list, and student teams documented sightings of 73 at-risk species including the Kamehameha butterfly and the endangered nēnē.

Observations from the student teams and their smart wireless devices moved at Verizon 4G LTE speeds via the iNaturalist app to websites for data collection and sharing.

The supercharged science event was a true celebration of the outdoors, Hawai‘ian culture, biodiversity and national parks. The annual BioBlitz events continue to explore the earth while growing future scientists who are all joining in the festivities and doing the “BioBlitz dance”!

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Parks 2015 BioBlitz was the ninth in a series of 10 annual BioBlitzes hosted by the National Geographic Society and the National Park Service leading up to the National Park Service centennial in 2016. The National Mall in Washington, D.C. will be the centerpiece of the BioBlitz 2016 nationwide festival.