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Museum launches app to help children get outdoors and connect to nature

Dippy’s Naturenauts is a web app which uses mobile technology to create an interactive experience for children.

The Museum, in partnership with Dell EMC and in association with Intel and Microsoft, today launches Dippy’s Naturenauts, to encourage children to venture outdoors and interact with the natural world.

Designed with the concerns of parents in mind, the new technology means data usage will be limited, the app will work in areas of low internet connectivity and users’ privacy is fully protected.

The educational app has been created to support the Museum’s two-year, UK-wide tour of its iconic Diplodocus dinosaur cast, Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure. The tour aims to instil a passion for nature in children and encourage families to explore green spaces wherever they live - in countryside or urban environments.

Designed for children aged four and above, characters’ Dippy and Fern the fox lead the user through a series of fun exploratory games created to encourage them to interact with the natural world around them. The activities include:

  • A ‘tree safari’, in which children are able to make virtual bark rubbings from different trees by using the cameras on their phones, swiping their fingers across the screen which captures the image which can be annotated with additional observations to build their own digital scrapbook.
  • ‘Feathered friends’ which introduces key features of birds appearances and songs to assist children in the identification of UK native species.
  • ‘Colour hunter’ utilising the devices built in camera to find things in nature, from the sky and rocks to feathers and flowers, that match selected shades and tones on a digital colour chart. This super-accessible activity will inspire children about the many amazing colours that exist in nature all around them.
  • ‘Petal quest’ will guide children to use scientific identification techniques to compare their photographs of flowers to a library in the app and set them on the path of identification.



Children will be encouraged to create their own avatar to personalise the experience. By completing the tasks and challenges throughout the interactive adventure children and families will unlock special Dippy’s Naturenauts badges and fun facts about UK wildlife. As the tasks are completed the players will unlock new pages in a digital storybook that features their avatar and photography alongside Dippy and Fern the fox as they explore the natural world together.

Piers Jones, Chief Product and Digital Officer at the Natural History Museum says, 'Research has consistently outlined the major benefits for children from being outside in nature from improved sleep and mental wellbeing to a natural absorption of vital Vitamin D. - yet more than 90 per cent of the population has been urbanised and the chances of any child visiting a green space having halved in a generation. Studies have also found that if children rarely encounter even common species of plants and animals, they will have low expectations of the natural world, low appreciation of the rich diversity of flora and fauna in the UK - and little support for its conservation.

'For all these reasons, the Museum believes finding new ways to ignite curiosity in and understanding of the natural world has never been more vital. This progressive web app, like Dippy on Tour, will help engage children with the nature on their doorstep and encourage them to explore, discover and want to protect the world around them.'


Two of the characters featured in the game


The progressive web app technology enables ‘app-like’ functionality on a wide variety of devices from smart phones or tablets, through a web browser. Once the browser has loaded the content the app will be fully functional offline allowing the user to limit data usage and use the app in areas where connectivity may be low. The Dippy’s Naturenauts app also takes no data away from the handset, protecting the user’s privacy.

The app has been made possible by the support of Dell EMC.

Claire Vyvyan, Senior Vice President UK&I Commercial, Dell EMC says, 'Dippy’s Naturenauts harnesses the entertainment value of mobile devices which, with the help of parents, enables children to use these devices as a gateway to the natural world. As leaders in technology, it’s our responsibility to inspire young individuals and help them to understand the exciting opportunities that a career in STEM holds; and of course, the power of technology to drive common good and human progress. This app is a great example of how we can encourage engagement with nature, through the power of digital technology.'


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The Natural History Museum exists to inspire a love of the natural world and unlock answers to the big issues facing humanity and the planet. It is a world-leading science research centre, and through its unique collection and unrivalled expertise it is tackling issues such as food security, eradicating diseases and managing resource scarcity. The Natural History Museum is the most visited natural history museum in Europe and the top science attraction in the UK; we welcome more than 4.5 million visitors each year and our website receives over 500,000 unique visitors a month. People come from around the world to enjoy our galleries and events and engage both in-person and online with our science and educational activities through innovative programmes and citizen science projects.

Dippy the Diplodocus skeleton has been to Dorset, the first stop of a UK-wide tour. Until now the dinosaur has never been on public display outside London, but visitors to Dorset County Museum will be able to see him until 7 May. After leaving Dorset, the skeleton will travel to seven other partner venues, ending the tour in Norwich in 2020. It is hoped that the iconic skeleton will encourage families and schools up and down the UK to explore nature on their doorstep. Dippy on Tour is brought to you by the Natural History Museum in partnership with the Garfield Weston Foundation and supported by DELL EMC and Williams and Hill.

Dell EMC, a part of Dell Technologies, enables organizations to modernize, automate and transform their data center using industry-leading converged infrastructure, servers, storage and data protection technologies. This provides a trusted foundation for businesses to transform IT, through the creation of a hybrid cloud, and transform their business through the creation of cloud-native applications and big data solutions. As a supplier of the Natural History Museum, Dell EMC technology has supported the work of its scientists for many years. Through Dippy on Tour, Dell EMC, in association with Intel, Microsoft and the Natural History Museum, have the opportunity to inspire the next generation of scientists and encourage them to engage with the natural world. The digital world has a huge role to play in this, by providing online and mobile technology that allows people to explore the outside world.

Toaster is a digital creative agency with offices in London, Singapore, San Francisco, New Delhi and Jakarta. Their clients include Google, YouTube, Android, Evernote, Novartis and Toyota. Toaster provides everything from the early stages of strategic brand and comms planning, through to creative concepting, design, and full implementation of digital-first campaigns, experiences, and products. No matter how far along the digital journey clients are; Toaster helps them to experiment, learn, launch and iterate new ways to create meaningful connections and relationships with their audiences.

The Garfield Weston Foundation is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2018, the Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded charitable grant-making foundation which supports causes across the UK with grants totalling over £60million each year. 2018 also marks its £1billionth donation since it was established. One of the largest and most respected charitable institutions in the UK, the Weston Family Trustees are descendants of the founder and they take a highly active and hands-on approach. The Foundation’s funding comes from an endowment of shares in the family business which includes Twinings, Primark, Kingsmill (all part of Associated British Foods Plc) and Fortnum & Mason amongst others - a successful model that still endures today; as the businesses have grown so too have the charitable donations. From small community organisations to large national institutions, the Foundation supports a broad range of charities and activities that make a positive impact in the communities in which they work. Over 1,500 charities across the UK benefit each year from the Foundation’s grants.

Williams & Hill have built up a reputation for excellence by firmly establishing themselves as the leading ‘Specialised Transporter of Fine Art, Antiques, Design Furniture and Decorative Objects’. With a highly experienced team working for the world’s major galleries and exhibition venues – they have a true understanding of the requirements for methodical care, consideration and appreciation of whatever may be in their care. No two days are the same, and the excitement of working in their own ever changing art gallery never fades.