Powerful Plants – the new augmented reality app is brought to you by, Al Benner, a man with a mission. Teaming up with Edutainment Systems LLC in making the new augmented reality app, Powerful Plants, he seeks to empower children everywhere to learn not only about the food they eat, but also how to take care of the environment. Through the simple act of planting a seed, he is fostering a child’s connection with their body and reinforces the call to take personal responsibility for the world in which they live. Powerful Plants was a favorite of TWA at the 2015 Toy Fair, and a company to watch in their dedication to educating kids. To begin play, choose between the book or seed packs. The plants come to life through the magic of augmented reality by scanning the pages of the book or the front of the seed packs into the app. Let’s take a look at the fabulous book first.
The book, “The Carrot Napping” has a great storyline concerning GMOs and the practice of fracking. This is the first in a promised series describing local ecosystems, practices that destroy the integrity of our planet, and what the consequences of choices are in terms of the future welfare and health of humankind. The book serves as a curriculum on the environment and current issues on its own, and will enliven discussions at the dinner table everywhere. I have to hand it to Powerful Plants, for taking on the subject of fracking, something I knew little about as well as GMOs. On opening, we meet a wide variety of forest and woodland plants and trees. By pointing your iPhone or iPad on the main figures, you are then asked 3 questions concerning the content on the page. There is a lot to learn, and after answering the questions, a video is unlocked. The videos not only give you background history of a particular plant, but also discuss its uses in terms of goods and services for consumption as well as the function of that plant ecologically. I love how the personification of the various plants makes you care for them and wish for a good outcome. The artwork and animation are ingenious, and Powerful Plants relate that children came up with many of the personal profiles of the plants, i.e. Dolls Eyes are the eyes of the forest, while the Jack in the Pulpit’s stalk is a microphone.
Weeping Willow and Douglas Fir initially fill us in on the “Selfish Seven” – those nasty characters that are only looking at short term gains and compromise Earth’s well-being. Grendal Greed, one particular bad guy that leads the Selfish Seven, has a plan to kidnap Daucus (daucous carrota, a carrot) and examine him in order to learn how to modify his make up for increased production. All the forest is a twitter. What to do? Finally, teams rally to rescue that poor carrot – Muscle Wood (the tree), and Puff Ball, (the mushroom) are at the ready and have a plan for rescue. I won’t tell you how it ends…You really need to take a look.
The seed packs are just plain fun. After viewing the background story of the animated vegetable take the kids outside or in a green house. Let them feel the dirt and observe the wonders of nature as their seedlings grow. Have picky eaters? Kids that are part of the process of growing foods and preparing them are much more likely to try them. Why? Not only have they invested time and energy, but they have also desensitized to the feel/texture, smell, and sight of a food until it is no longer scary or unusual. Playing with your food is the equivalent to tasting food before you put it in your mouth. We have a greenhouse at the preschool, and encourage the children to explore growing foods, harvesting, and eating them. I would probably use an iPhone for the seed packs, as they can be easily brought to use in a greenhouse or out of doors. The seed pack stories also contain tips for growing and using a plant.
If you are looking for a curriculum on healthy eating, how foods are produced, and taking care of the environment. I would look no further. On their website: powerful plants.net, you can order seed packs (schools receive a hefty 25% discount and purchasing can be used for fund raising purposes), enter contests, or contact Powerful Plants for more information. Their motto: “Real Plants, Real Powers and Real Fun” thoroughly describes what their mission is all about. There are also games and opportunities to win prizes. Powerful Plant products can be found at your local nursery or ordered through the website. (There are packages available to retailers also). This augmented reality experience is an invaluable lesson in learning about taking care of ourselves, others, and the planet on which we live. Highly recommended.
About the Author
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years, and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play everyday; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.