As part of Nottingham’s Big Summer, Nottingham City Council organised 6 afternoon sessions in August and September where families could meet Park Rangers and take on the challenge of completing orienteering courses. To coincide with the Nottingham’s Dinosaurs of China exhibition, the orienteering courses have been enhanced with 60 dinosaur Artcodes – interactive markers that can be scanned with the Artcodes mobile app to reveal images and facts about the different dinosaurs. At any of the sessions, families could pick up maps and a spotter sheet to tick off each dinosaur find, and then keep tracking down the hidden dinosaurs until the exhibition leaves Nottingham at the end of the year.
Over the six sessions just fewer than 600 visitors set out to find dinosaurs. Of these, over 300 used the Artcodes app and tracked down and scanned more than 800 dinosaurs. While a handful of the dinosaurs are still to be found, most have been located: the most commonly found dinosaur was the Triceratops, hidden in Bilborough Park.
Visitors to the Bilborough Park session were pleased to find another way of enjoying the park: “It gives us another option for kids of different ages – when you’ve got a 4-, 6- and 9- year old you need plenty of different options to keep them all happy”. They were also happy to see the Council and Park Rangers looking forward, saying, “It’s the future, isn’t it? Everyone has a phone with them now and our children understand them better than we do”.
The experience was one result of a long-term discussion between Horizon and the Digital Humanities Centre at University of Nottingham and the City Council’s Park Rangers about using personal technologies to get the public outdoors. Mobile devices can be a contentious issue, as summed up by one parent: “I worry that the dinosaur app endorses using the mobile again – keeping them glued to the tech – but I think I’m ready to give up that fight now”. However, others were keen to see more experiences that combined their children’s fascination with personal technology and outdoor pursuits: “It feels like this is a great combination of learning and running around: sometimes it seems like that doesn’t really happen any more”.
Dinosaurs of China is a world exclusive exhibition of dinosaurs, running from 1st July to 29th October 2017. In a partnership between Nottingham City Council and the University of Nottingham, the exhibition is shared between Wollaton Hall and Nottingham Lakeside Arts, while satellite events such as Dinosaur Orienteering take place all around Nottingham.