Whole Foods' Whole Kids Foundation® Launches Free Organic Education App
AUSTIN, TX – Whole Foods’ Whole Kids Foundation has announced the launch of its Starting with Soil app—a tablet-based organic education app intended to provide a fun way for parents to learn about organic growing and encourage parents and children to consume organic produce.
"We wanted to create a playful way to help kids understand the importance of healthy soil and see first-hand the roles that plants, animals, and people play in keeping it balanced," said Nona Evans, President and Executive Director of Whole Kids Foundation. "We think it's critical kids understand where food comes from, the process it goes through to land on our plates, and the significant effects these processes have on our environment, communities, and bodies."
The free app, created with support from United Natural Foods, Inc. and in partnership with the Center for Ecoliteracy, functions as an interactive story, according to a Whole Kids Foundation press release. The story takes place in four chapters. The first three chapters demonstrate how nature creates soil, how long soil production takes, and the importance of pollinators, animals, the weather, microorganisms, and cover crops play in organic farming. The final chapter presents ways families can explore organic education at home, in school, in the community, and even while they shop.
"Soil is literally packed with reciprocal and fascinating relationships, and kids are captivated to discover that life and energy are alive and well beneath their feet," noted Zenobia Barlow, Executive Director of the Center for Ecoliteracy, an organization with over 20 years of experience in designing effective curriculum for children.
The app also features slow-motion video that allows kids to see bees pollinating and butterflies extracting nectar and time lapse photography of the way apple, radish, and bean seeds become seedlings and burst through topsoil in vibrant colors. Nematodes, algae, and protozoa make cameo appearances, and users are encouraged to plant seeds, build a compost pile, view soil and organisms through a microscope, and view the symbiosis at work when corn, beans, and squash are planted together.
The company hopes that environmental educators and teachers will appreciate the central message: soil is alive, riveting, and vital. And with school gardens becoming an increasingly common educational tool, the app, designed at a third-grade reading level, is sure to be an effective tool in conjunction with these gardens. In fact, the foundation’s press release noted, school gardens are shown to improve children's behavior and performance at school, while improving their appreciation for the environment. And children who grow their own food are also more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and to be more knowledgeable about nutrition.
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