GLOBE Observer

App review by
Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Media
GLOBE Observer App Poster Image
Collect data as a citizen scientist; location required.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about making scientific observations, identifying cloud types, and collecting and sharing data with scientists from around the world. They'll also learn about mosquito habitats and how to identify potential mosquito breeding grounds. 

Ease of Play

A step-by-step tutorial for each activity helps kids get started, but there are a lot of icons and features to figure out. 

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that GLOBE Observer is an app that allows kids to make and share observations of clouds and mosquito habitats. Special natural occurrences also appear in the app for data collection, like the 2017 eclipse. Observations are stored on the device and can be shared using social media or by sending them directly to the NASA database. Note that an email address must be provided to register, and access to your location is required. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

Kids start with GLOBE OBSERVER by creating an account with an email address. The two options for gathering data are cloud observations and mapping mosquito habitats, unless there's a special natural event included, like an eclipse. Each option steps users through the process of describing the environment, the option of taking photos, and the option of sharing observations. There are also links to view upcoming satellite flyovers, global community data, NASA data, and a cloud reference guide.

Is it any good?

The idea of sharing scientific data with a global community centered around NASA is awesome, but primarily having only two options for environmental observations is limiting. Observing clouds and mosquito habitats using GLOBE Observer are interesting ways to study the environment, but adding more options would make the app much more appealing. Thankfully, special events like eclipses are timely add-ons, so kids can use their excitement to fuel their observations. There are a lot of excellent support tools for users, which is typical of NASA apps. Users can visit the GLOBE Observer website and access links to data, training, a summary of the app, and much more. Most importantly, it includes kids in a real-life scientific community, which makes data collection much less abstract and more exciting.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why it's important for scientists around the world to collaborate. Sharing information helps people learn from one another. How does GLOBE Observer help this purpose?

  • Discuss some ways to collect and share data. Work together to collect a data set and share it with other family members and friends. 

  • Talk about the importance of tracking mosquito breeding sites and preventing the spread of certain diseases.

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For kids who love science and STEM

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