How Jam3 and Canada Media Fund are using AR to educate kids on climate change

Wild Cities is an interactive story app that teaches children the impact of climate change on plants and wildlife.

On the heels of the latest United Nations Climate Change Report, which warns of an intensifying climate emergency, and the ongoing COP26 climate conference, Jam3 has invited children into the conversation about sustainability. 

Design and experience agency Jam3, in partnership with the Canada Media Fund, has launched Wild Cities, an AR app for children designed to address the conversation about climate change. 

Developed over the course of two and a half years with the City of Toronto and Luxembourg, Wild Cities uses augmented reality to create a narrated storyline that educates children on wildlife and plants native to their city. 

The app, created for children ages six to nine, walks users through five chapters of a virtual adventure to uncover wildlife and vegetation found in Canada, Luxembourg and other parts of the world. 

First, users are asked to plant an acorn that grows into a Magic Tree. Then, children are asked to help the tree find more than 20 lost animals throughout the forest, from raccoons and foxes to moose and coyotes. 

As children are taken through the journey, users are presented with pollution and are given tasks like helping to clean the air and attracting the animals. 

In the last chapter, they can make a “wish” from a list of options including “humans and nature to live in balance,” “clean water and air,” “more trees,” “less waste” and “protect endangered species.” 

The purpose of the campaign is to help children understand climate issues in an easy, interactive and digestible way without directly telling them, said Laura Cortes, creative director at Jam3. 

“[The story] revolves around the fact that humans are not coexisting [with nature] in a healthy manner,” she said. “[This is about] trying to inform children about the things they can do to help alleviate some of the stress caused by human presence.” 

Canada Media Fund awarded Jam3 a grant to support the building of the app, and it is promoting the app to teachers, universities and parents of young children. 

The app is currently available on Android and iOS in English, French, German and Luxembourgish.

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