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The Seek App Turns Backyards and Parks into a Scavenger Hunt

The Seek app on a phone identifying Monarch butterflies.
iNaturalist

Looking to have more fun in your backyard or at the local park to keep yourself busy during quarantine? The Seek app is a super-cool way to learn more about nature in a sleek, gamified way.

Thanks to the coronavirus, we can’t meet up with friends and family for happy hours, hikes, and all the fun things we used to do together. However, there’s no rule that says you can’t go outside—just that you can’t be close to other, possibly-contagious people.

While crowded parks and beaches aren’t a good choice for your outdoor fix right now, there’s one place that’s still safe: your backyard. And you can turn your ordinary yard into a wellspring of nature discovery with Seek.

Seek lets you scan and photograph plants and animals, and then, using image-recognition AI, it tells you what they are. Suddenly, that bird in your yard isn’t just a bird: it’s a song sparrow or a dark-eyed junco.

You can “collect” species you’ve identified in the app and earn badges along the way. Seek also tells you about nearby species in your area, so you’ll know what to look out for.

The app isn’t perfect, though; sometimes, it can’t tell which species you scanned. However, the AI gets better at recognizing species as more people use it. In our experience, it’s much better at identifying plants than animals, but it’s still fun to try it out on both!

Since you’re probably spending more time in your backyard, why not learn more about the species sharing it with you? The app is free, so there’s nothing to lose. Plus, if you’re a parent who’s homeschooling your kids, Seek is a great way to turn screen time into nature time.

Just because you can’t leave home doesn’t mean you can’t get outside. Even if you live in the city, you might be surprised how many living things the app can identify.

Download the free app for iOS or Android devices today!

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »

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