About Us

Eco-Explorer is a venture created by primary science consultant Steven Lewis-Neill. Steven’s many years of primary school teaching experience and a passion for Ecology and the environment formed the basis of this project.

The increased uptake in mobile devices combined with a new focus on ‘the outdoor classroom‘, ‘Eco-Schools’ and ‘Forest Schools’ create a gap perfectly suited for Eco-Explorer. Work began in early 2012 on a web-based outdoor learning platform designed for primary schools using iPad devices and Eco-Explorer has been trialled, tested and developed in schools from Sutton to Singapore!

Steven Lewis-Neill is a fully qualified and experienced Primary Teacher – having taught in each year group from Foundation Stage to Year 6.

He has worked as a Science subject leader and delivered staff training in Scientific Enquiry (Sc1). As part of his MSc he conducted research in Liverpool primary schools investigating the positive effects an animal can have on a child’s self-esteem. After completing his Masters degree in Animal Behaviour the aim was to engage young children with nature. In 2007 he set up WildWorkshops, providing a unique outside service for schools, teaching towards the science curriculum through practical workshops involving a variety of British wildlife.

Steven has since delivered sessions at the British Science Festival, Big Bang Fair and many regional science conferences and writes as Innovate My School’s ‘industry expert’ on nature and outdoor learning. Steven also delivers CPD across the North-West of England for the Science Learning Network.

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About Eco Explorer: Key Questions

  • Does it match the curriculum?
  • Is it accessible and inclusive?
  • Does it provide valuable user guidance and information?
  • Does it provide flexibility to the teacher?
  • Does it engage learners?
  • Does it enable effective learning?
  • Does it track progression and achievement?
  • Does the product show consideration for e-safety within the online context?
  • Is it distinctive and innovative?
  • Does it provide value for money?

 

Does it match the curriculum?

Eco Explorer covers all new curriculum Life Processes and Living Things (Sc2) topics. These include:

FS: Animals, Plants, Minibeasts

KS1: Plants, Animals including Humans (Y1), Animals including Humans (Y2), Living things and their habitats

KS2:  Plants, Animals including Humans (Lower KS2), Animals including Humans (Upper KS2), Living Things and their Habitats (Lower KS2), Living Things and their Habitats (Upper KS2), Evolution and Inheritance

Task objectives have been pulled from the new curriculum in liaison with class teachers and subject leaders.

Is it accessible and inclusive?

The system is designed for the iPad and is web based and as such requires Wi-Fi connection. The system is designed for children as young as 4 with an easy to use QR code log in for all pupils. From trials, younger pupils found this easier than typing in a password. The app interface means children do not have to type a URL to enter the site. Behind each objective there is a bank of tasks graded at 3 levels of difficulty. Pupils are given differentiated tasks based on their previous scores. The bank of tasks is such that pupils sharing an iPad device are unlikely to be given the same task when it is their turn. The drag and drop tasks are fairly intuitive but for younger pupils, those with poor reading ability or ESL pupils questions can be read aloud by touching the words.

User Guidance and information

The website has a FAQ’s guide and step by step explainer videos on how to get started.

Teacher Flexibility

The system can be used creatively by the teacher. By picking the topic before the lesson the teacher can choose specific objectives they would like the children to work on or allow the children to explore all objectives for that topic. In this way Eco Explorer can be used to introduce or reinforce topics. It can be particularly effective in assessing learning during the plenary. Separate groups can be set up for Science/Eco/After-School Clubs. Though the 10 QR codes are permanent, extra copies can be printed off from the teacher’s interface. Extra codes could be used indoors during inclement weather, these could be placed around the school hall, classroom or down a corridor as part of an interactive display.

It is possible for pupils to use the system at home if they are part of a 1:1 student tablet programme. This would allow for ‘Flipped Classroom’ learning – children learn knowledge prior to lesson, freeing up more in-class time for investigative work.

Does it engage learners?

YES! Children love working on tablet devices AND being outside. Motivation to use Eco Explorer is definitely not an issue!

Does it enable effective learning?

Tablet devices are mobile and this enables learning in context i.e. learning about nature, while being outside. This makes Eco Explorer a strikingly effective learning tool. For example, children could be identifying trees by studying their leaves or finding ladybirds at various stages of their lifecycle – the app can be used ‘in the field’ to check understanding.

Using Eco Explorer before children start a topic allows the teacher to assess what they know already – highlighting knowledge gaps and informing future teaching.

Power of personalisation: By recording the children’s scores on tasks Eco Explorer selects tasks at an appropriate level of difficulty for the child. Children receive instant feedback on tasks and can track their own progress by checking their scores page.

Does it track progression and achievement?

Yes. Teachers can see each pupil’s scores/number of attempts on individual objectives as well as overall statistics for the topic. It is also possible to take a screenshot of a child’s work and save it on the iPad for later – all tasks have the objective written on screen for this purpose.

Does it show consideration for e-safety within the online context?

Though web-based the app interface means children do not type a url and have no access to other websites.

Is it distinctive and innovative?

Quite simply, there is nothing on the market like Eco Explorer. The ability of the teacher to log in and select their topic, ‘changing’ the QR stations to link to tasks about that topic is unique. Eco Explorer contains 100% native UK species (including over 50 types of birds, 100’s of invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and mammals), fully supporting the renewed emphasis on children learning about Plants and Animals in their local environment.

Does it provide value for money?

A whole school subscription costs £299 and includes the 10 permanent outdoor codes. Fantastic value for a resource which allows a child to spend more time outdoors.

The EcoExplorer app is available at the App Store and Google Play store.

Eco Explorer App

 

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