Episode 16: Shownotes & Transcript

Welcome to The STEM Sessions Podcast.  I am your host, Jarl Cody.

This episode is different. 

  • Episode is a mix of studio and field recordings as I try out the Agents of Discovery app
  • From their website, it is “an educational mobile gaming platform that uses augmented reality to get youth active”

The adventure takes us to Willow Springs Park in Long Beach, CA

  • 48.2 acres
  • Open daily, dawn to dusk

Park is the site of an artesian spring discovered in 1882

  • First water source for flegdling Long Beach and surrounding farms
  • When discovered, the spring surrounded by a forest of willow trees; hence the name of the park

During oil boom of Long Beach and Signal Hill, the park site contained dozens of oil rigs

  • Some activity remains today but is winding down

Sits atop the Cherry Hill Fault

  • region of the Newport/Inglewood Fault
  • lifts the land 4 millimeters/year
  • created topographic contours in the Park that were preserved and used to create a unique park

Longview Point is highest point of the Willow Springs Park, about 136 ft above sea level

  • provides 360-degree views of the Long Beach skyline, include the San Gabriel mountains, the pacific ocean, Santa Catalina Island, the Santa Ana Mountains, Hollywood sign, etc
  • Highest point in Long Beach; Signal Hill a few miles south east is taller at 330 ft but that lies in the city of Signal Hill, an island surrounded by Long Beach

Willow Springs Wetlands Restoration Project started in October 2017.

  • restored 11 acres of a 48-acre degraded site into wetlands
  • highlight the pivotal role they played in the City of Long Beach’s establishment in the late 1800’s
  • preserving the history and unique topography of the site.

This episode was fun to create; though time consuming to edit

I hope you enjoy it.

This is The STEM Sessions Podcast – Episode 16. Agents of Discovery at Willow Springs Park

Follow many local preserves, parks, and wetlands on social media and subscribe to their newsletters

  • In the last week, several have promoted their participation in something called SoCal Agents of Discovery
  • Initial impression is it’s an app guided tour crossed with a scavenger hunt with prizes to be earned.
  • Definitely seems geared towards kids, but I like exploring, and it might be an opportunity to find natural areas in southern ca I’m not familiar with
  • So I’m going to give it shot and record my adventure.

It’s currently Friday evening; at home in my office

  • Going to set up the app, pick my adventure, and perhaps do a bit of research on where I’ll be going
  • Tomorrow morning I’ll go on my quest, recording it all along the way

App is called agents of discovery

  • Already downloaded
  • Opening on my phone

App set up

Select quest

Field recordings

Wrap up Thoughts

Overall had a fun time using the Agents of Discovery app at Willow Springs Park in Long Beach

App itself if a bit clunky

  • Then again, it’s design for younger kids to use so that likely explains the interface
  • Could still use better location algorithm so you’re not skipping around the map
  • No photo recognition so you can take a picture of dirt and still be correct

Quest is only as good as the people creating the specific quest

  • App has built in functionality for interacting with QR codes on site and scavenger hunts and augmented reality
  • But it’s up to the quest creator to utilize them, and if they lack the imagination or skill or time, then only the basic quiz and photo challenges get used
  • Quest can also suffer if too much of the landscape has changed since the day the quest was released; I experience this in the form of overgrown plants hiding objects and overall drought conditions and seasonal changes

Purpose of the Agents of Discovery app is wonderful

  • Get young kids exploring nature and learn about it hands-on
  • Its gamifying education but not in a typical video game format
  • Entertaining enough for the parents or older siblings, too – I had fun doing it
  • I would definitely do other quests

Thank you for listening to The STEM Sessions Podcast. 

This episode was researched, written, and produced by Jarl Cody.

Here at The STEM Sessions, we strive to share accurate and complete information, but we also encourage you to do your own research on the topic we discussed to confirm the accuracy of what we’ve presented.  Corrections are always welcome.

Shownotes, contact information, and details of our other activities can be found on our website thestemsessions.com

If you received value from this episode, and wish to give some back, please visit thestemsessions.com/valueforvalue for ways to support the podcast.

Finally, please remember STEM is not a tool exclusive to experts, policy makers, and talking heads.  Every presenter is susceptible to unconscious and, sometimes, deliberate bias, so always verify what you read and what you’re told. 

Until the next one, stay curious.

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