Backyard Planet: Two Kids, a Globetrotting Ecologist, and a Series of Unnatural Events!
CHECK OUT A VIDEO AND OUR KICKSTARTER PAGE HERE:
To help address a staggering divide between children and the outdoors,Backyard Planet combines entertaining story-driven content with action-oriented audience participation. This well-documented lack of connection to nature impacts all levels of our society, from rising obesity rates, to a pronounced decline in science and math education in the U.S. Creating the inspiration and opportunity for kids to go outside is rich with positive, and measurable impacts.
So, we’re developing a fast-paced, story driven documentary series hosted by kids, for kids that challenges them to go outside! Get dirty! Have fun! And while you’re at it, use your smartphones, and maybe help save the planet, too!
Current support for the project includes a development grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, who will be helping advise on content, as well as provide fun outdoor adventures for the winners of the Citizen Science Competition.
The Kickstarter community donations would help fund the pilot episode ofBackyard Planet, while we continue to pursue co-production opportunities as well as other funding opportunities which would allow us to build an online website for our content.
This 15-minute episode takes our kids to the rugged coast of northern California near Santa Cruz, where sick and dead Sea Otters are washing ashore weekly. With the help of researchers from the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, and wildlife biologists, the kids follow the cause-and effect of the mystery to discover that house cats are partly responsible. The solution? Stop flushing kitty litter down the toilet! Kitty litter contains a toxic bacteria that outsmarts our water filtration systems, and winds up being washed out into the bay – killing otters, and harmful to humans. Who knew? The episode closes with a “Call to Action: Citizen Science Competition,” that challenges viewers to go outside, explore, learn and record local field observations and send their most creative findings for use in upcoming shows. Each show will feature a fast-paced combination of cinema verite shooting styles, driving graphics, bold animation, fun music and crowd-sourced video content supplied by kids nationwide.
MORE ON THE BACKYARD PLANET SERIES:
As a high-quality episodic series, designed for either TV or webisodes,Backyard Planet features Stanford Global Ecologist and iNaturalist co-inventor Scott Loarie, who teams up with two curious 11-12 year-old kids to explore Mother Nature’s many mysteries – both natural and unnatural. Like detectives on the trail of a juicy mystery, they use old-fashioned smarts, scientific deduction, smartphones and crowd-sourced data to help track what’s happening in their backyards and beyond.
Scott’s day job tracks the impacts of climate change around the world. He’s discovering that animals are on the move and some plant species exist that were previously thought extinct, including poison dart frogs recently sited in Colombia. His research also leads him to question mysterious events that his data can’t explain, like why the beloved California Sea Otter is dying in such great numbers. That’s when he looks to his fellow investigators, Backyard Planet’s featured kids hosts, for help.
In each of the episodes, Scott sets the challenge, and our kid hosts set out on a variety of adventures as they turn to wildlife experts, field biologists, and naturalists to find out more. Together they track bee colonies, tag bat wings with tiny GPS units, climb giant Redwood trees, and perform necropsies on diseased sea otters. Using their smartphones, and the iNaturalist ap to record their field research to share with scientists around the planet, they try to solve questions like, “Are our house cats making sea otters sick?” “How is my water bottle affecting the albatross?”, “How are bats getting so sick?” and “Can flowers and fruit trees bloom without bees?” Kids learn that whether they live in downtown San Francisco, suburban Atlanta, or rural Kansas, nature is only a few steps out their own front doors and each of them can make a difference as citizen scientists, using iNaturalist.org as a tool to participate.