Duluth’s Hartley Nature Center announced last week that they received a $15,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to support Hartley’s science-environmental education for Duluth-area school children as well as pilot the integration of mobile technology into its field classes.

Thanks to this partnership with Verizon, during field trips at the center, children will no longer use traditional and cumbersome paper field guides, but instead, download apps such as iBird Pro to help them learn and identify bird calls and field markings and study range and migration maps. The children will obtain knowledge, in a safe and fun learning environment, to help them pursue future education and careers in the STEM field.

Hartley Nature Center will officially kick-off its new technology-enhanced field trips on Monday, Nov. 12 from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. when it hosts high school students from Woodland Hills school in Duluth.

Tom O’Rourke, executive director of Hartley Nature Center says, “With technology and select apps, kids can easily search for birds, see crisp and vivid photos and video, identify bird calls, and learn about habitat in real-time. This hands-on learning will strengthen our program delivery, connecting kids with nature through a medium they know, like and understand, while letting them know there’s a lot more to technology than Angry Birds.”

The funding will also be used for Geology classes, assisting primarily 4th- through 6th-grade students in identifying and comprehending plate tectonics, the rock cycle and erosional processes and fund a variety of 2012-13 seasonally appropriate, two-hour classes, including Weather, Insects & Spiders, Plants, Crayfish Ecology and Stream Study.

The Hartley Nature Center provides classes during the school year to 2,225 Duluth-area school children from 14 schools. Hartley serves more than 20,000 visitors a year, including more than 12,000 school-aged children through field trips, special events and public programs.