The LWM Encounters App is a collaborative project between the Lindsay Wildlife Museum and Saint Mary’s College of California. It is made possible by a SENCER-ISE grant supporting STEM learning through civic engagement. The project is part of the Lindsay Wildlife Museum’s mission of informal science education and its effort to broaden its educational outreach into the surrounding community. The project also represents a mission on the part of Saint Mary’s College to:
- make the expertise of Saint Mary’s College faculty and students available to the community as a resource.
- give advanced Math/CS students at Saint Mary’s College the opportunity to build upon their technical skills in real-life working environments.
The goal of the project is to create an app connecting the greater SF Bay Area residents with local wildlife, wildlife habitats to promote a harmonious and enriched relationship between these communities and the nature surrounding them. Prominent features of the app include a field guide of the local wildlife as well as functionality to document wildlife encounters in fields notes (which can be shared via social media). The app also highlights opportunities to interact with wildlife through the educational programs and services offered by the Lindsay Wildlife museum.
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The Creation Process
The creation of the LWM Encounters app consisted of four phases: design, development, testing and deployment.
The Saint Mary’s development team worked closely with the Lindsay Wildlife Museum on design. The team learned about Lindsay’s mission and history, its existing programs and projected areas of growth. These discussions led to concrete design concepts for the purpose of supporting Lindsay’s outreach and educational programs through mobile technology.
In the development phase, tasks were divided into discrete components and assigned to groups consisting of 2 to 3 developers. Members of the small groups worked closely together on their own independently determined schedules. The entire team met weekly for updates from the small groups, code integration and to troubleshoot outstanding technical issues. Collaboration between team members was facilitate by frequent code drops using shared repositories. This model of development allowed the team to make progress on flexible terms while balancing full academic, work and teaching loads.
The team also met with Lindsay Wildlife Museum numerous times during development, adapting design to feedback.
The local wildlife field guide and human-wildlife interaction guide are original content created by the Lindsay Wildlife Museum. The images used in the wildlife field guide are contributed by photographers associated with the Lindsay Wildlife Museum.
During the development of the app, students gained technical fluency in working with SQL, Xcode, SDK frameworks, Tkinter for Python and various vector graphics editors. Students also gained experience communicating technical information to a wide range of audiences.
In the testing phase, the team worked with Lindsay Wildlife Museum to select focus group beta testers, to create questionnaires for collecting qualitative feedback, and to polish the app in response.
During the two semester long collaboration, students on the team had the unique opportunity to work with a real client and participate in the full product life cycle from design and development to testing and then, finally, deployment. Most importantly, students were able to see their classroom knowledge translate into a product that is meaningful and enriching to the local community.
- Michael Allocca (Muhlenberg College)
- Steve Bachofer (SMC Dept. of Chemistry)
- Weiwei Pan (SMC Dept. of Math/CS)
- Michele Setter (LWM)
The Development Team:
- Marco Avalos (SMC class of 2014)
- Elliott Battle (SMC class of 2014)
- Anthony Braddick (SMC class of 2014)
- Katy Duran (SMC class of 2015)
- Weiwei Pan (project manager)
- John Spalluzzi (SMC class of 2015)
About Lindsay Wildlife Museum
Lindsay Wildlife Museum connects people with wildlife to inspire responsibility and respect for the world we share. The museum is a unique natural history and environmental education center where wild live animals are just inches away from visitors. The museum includes the first wildlife rehabilitation hospital established in the U.S.
The Saint Mary’s College of California experience inspires learning that lasts a lifetime. For 150 years, the College has provided students with a rigorous education that engages their intellect and spirit, and awakens a desire to transform society. Guided by the Christian Brothers, the Catholic Church’s oldest order dedicated exclusively to teaching, the College enrolls more than 4,100 students in undergraduate and graduate liberal arts and business programs.