Sunday, January 22, 2012

Penguins! Penguins!

I am obsessed with my newest app. It's like reality TV with animals! Pocket Penguins is a FREE iPhone app, but works just fine on my iPad as well.  The California Academy of Sciences streams the Africa penguin exhibit in real time, and the user has the ability to switch between 3 live webcams. These penguins immediately captivated my son and me! We had fun predicting which penguin would jump in the water next or wondering why two penguins started fighting.

The iTunes description mentioned live feedings at 10:30 am and 3:00 pm, California time. Sure enough, just a minute or two after 5:00 pm in the Midwest, live sound came on and two employees started talking to the crowd and answering questions. We could see one biologist get in the water and hand feed the penguins. This Q & A show lasted about 15 minutes and the penguins were very active at this time! We checked in the next day at the earlier time, saw and heard different trainers and learned even more facts about penguins. I am not sure this is a 24/7 app, though. The underwater camera seems to be dark later at night. I assume the lights are off in the exhibit then.

I started investigating, trying to find other apps like this.

I took a chance and downloaded the Pocket Zoo HD app for $1.99 I was excited because it has 17 animals webcams from around the world. It seems some are just still shots, though. Due to time zone differences, all 17 webcams are not all on at once. The meerkats were fun to watch, though, running around, quite active. The camera quality was not the best on some these web cams. But since Japan is pretty far away, I will cut them some slack! I was a little disappointed, especially since it was a PAID app, but my son was not. We are definitely going to give it another try at a different time tomorrow!

I found the San Diego Zoo app, and downloaded it because it was FREE. In the Media section, there are 3 webcams to choose from: Panda, Ape (which is an orangutan) & Polar Bear.  The camera quality was pretty good.  I haven't spent too much time with this app yet (cute penguins taking all my time!), but I'll let you know how it compares.

This reminded me of a super duper Livebinder I saw once over at this awesome blog: Check out all these resources for webcams in the classroom!

Now, here comes the fun part - integrating these apps of webcams in your classroom! Where are they a natural fit? Science, and the study of animals, is an obvious answer. Can we be creative and bring them in other ways as well? One idea I am toying with comes from the Visible Thinking website mentioned on the Tech Transformation blog . I am new to these strategies, but I think I could incorporate it in this open-ended way: After watching the animal(s), students would discuss/write/draw:

   • What do you see?
   • What do you think about that?
   • What does it make you wonder?

Any ideas out there for other webcam uses? Any other resources, websites or apps you would recommend?



  1. Hi Terri, Love your blog. Glad I found it. Great ideas. I'm going to add a new section to my Animal Webcam binder called apps. I'll add your post to it tomorrow. Can't wait to check out those penguins! :)
    Karen (KB...Konnected)

  2. Hi Terri,
    I'm glad you found that Visible Thinking Routine useful. There are many other ones that I use too so check them out as they are great at making the students' thinking visible for us all.

    1. I will definitely explore them! Thanks for the tip!

  3. Thanks for the tip! I am at school syncing my iPods right now! And this is PERFECT because we are writing friendly letters about penguins right now!!! Thanks again!

    1. Glad they fit with something you were already doing!

  4. I am now a follower! Love the apps you recommended.

  5. Thanks! I hopped over to your fun blog and I am your newest follower! looking forward to learning along with you!

  6. Thank you for sharing all of this! I am your newest follower and would love for you to come visit me when you get the chance. =)

    Heather's Heart