By David Haynes – QuestaGame Co-founder
“You guys missed out on the most incredible day!” As he headed for the school bus, a ten-year-old boy expressed exactly how he was going to greet his siblings when he got home. Sixteen students, three parents and a teacher from the Maleny River School arrived at Woodfordia the day before the 2019 Planting Festival for their own, private BioDiscovery Adventure.
The excitement of the kids was palpable and contagious as they explored along the creek and surrounding vegetation behind Festival Hall, finding all sorts of spiders, insects, fungi, mosses and water bugs. Experts were on hand to help identify what was found, and the kids enjoyed taking close-up looks with the supplied microscopes. The power of outdoor active science learning was on display in full force. It was really inspiring to see just how engaged all the kids were for the whole day.
The fun of that Thursday, though, was only the beginning of Woodfordia’s BioDiscovery Project, as things really picked up from there and bloomed during the festival, which began the following day. The project was proudly supported by the Advance Queensland Engaging Science Grant, provided by the Queensland Government. Throughout the weekend, patrons were encouraged to explore the beautiful natural surroundings and all the life that it sustains on any of a number of nature walks and field trips with a variety of naturalist experts. Whilst exploring, participants were encouraged to submit photos of all the different living things they could find using the QuestaGame app, to help document the life of Woodfordia. Woodfordians have now helped to map over 1,000 sightings of over 250 different species – a great team effort. Check their findings here.
QuestaGame is a nature-mapping adventure game, designed to make biodiversity citizen science even more fun by giving players a mission to save life on Earth. QuestaGamers earn rewards by submitting photo sightings or identifications of wild plants, animals, fungi and any other life forms wherever they find them. Players can submit their finds using the app on their smartphone. The better their finds, the higher their scores, in part informed by taxon rarity in biodiversity research databases. QuestaGame players get their sightings identified by expert players and scientists, but everyone is encouraged to help identify sightings through the QuestaLab feature. Ultimately, the sightings are shared with biodiversity databases such as the Atlas of Living Australia, supporting research aimed at protecting life on Earth.
Given the threats that today’s biodiversity is facing, whether from pollution, land-clearing, or climate change, saving life on Earth is a pretty awesome mission for players to take on. And when you consider that most of the world’s species are yet to be discovered by science, it’s clear that even novice players can make a real impact, with the potential to have a new species named after themselves.
If you missed out on the action at last year’s Planting Festival, that’s okay, because The Planting 2020 is just around the corner, held at Woodfordia from 1 – 3 May. Woodfordia’s BioDiscovery Project is an ongoing endeavour and you can play anywhere, anytime. You can play and contribute to the project at The Planting 2020, or why not join Woodfordia’s TreeHuggers at their monthly gatherings? Once you’ve downloaded the QuestaGame app from the Apple or Android app store, join the Woodfordia Clan, and we’ll see you on our next nature adventure.
Grab your tickets for The Planting 2020 here.
Browse our accommodation options here.
The full programme for this year’s festival will be released on 28 March 2020.
This article has been shared by courtesy of Lore Society, a publication available to Woodfordian Citizens in print and digital format. To access more articles like this, you can sign up to become a citizen here.
Lore Society is the quarterly journal of Woodfordia Inc., a not-for-profit Incorporated Association that produces the Woodford Folk Festival, The Planting, Festival of Small Halls and Woodfordia’s Artisan Camp at Woodfordia, Queensland, Australia.