Barcelona Rocks, an app for those who want to learn geology in their city

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Discover the science behind geology in your city through the use of an interactive application with exploration routes, digital simulations and experiments.

This project aims to develop an application for smart mobile devices that will be used by non-experts in earth sciences. Barcelona Rocks is an application for personal mobile devices suitable for use by students, secondary school teaching staff and the general public, with the aim at learning geology by examining the rock facades and pavements of the city, thus using them as teaching and learning resources. This application also briefly introduces the significance of the appearance of different types of rocks in the buildings of the city in its successive historical stages.

Although it is presented as a tool for a playful learning of geology for secondary school students, its level of knowledge also introduces basic concepts and principles of earth sciences to a more general audience, regardless of age, providing the degree of interactivity and entertainment that each user wishes at any time. The work carried out by this project includes:

  1. Explaining the techniques and experiments that allow the user to identify each of the selected rocks, together with its origin;
  2. Introducing both younger and non-expert users to the world of geology and rocks in an attractive and entertaining way, as well as the history of the rocks as building elements, i.e. Roman Barcino, Medieval Barcelona, etc.;
  3. Similarly, and without ignoring the above-mentioned aims, providing historical information about architecture, with the aim that all users can improve their knowledge of the surrounding architectural history.
  4. Showing the incidence and importance of geology, even to an audience with limited expertise;
  5. Developing resources to disclose and disseminate the subject of geology, thanks to a mobile application format, to create a backup material or practical training, or complementary science student courses and lectures and social learning events;
  6. Inspiring new generations of scientists and researchers to be oriented towards geology subjects;
  7. Set in the framework of the Spanish Strategy for Science and Technology and Research to promote awareness of science and scientific culture in society, Barcelona Rocks integrates culture and innovation as an essential issue for the emergence of new scientific and technological vocations, promoting critical thinking and further understanding of the scientific method, thus increasing social interest in science, technology and innovation.

Since the possibilities are vast, Barcelona Rocks is intended to implement the basic application for this purpose. It has potential for further expansion through executive or additional information modules that can improve the product. This depends on the project’s development and funding.

Basic information

Country: Spain

Coordinator: Universitat de Barcelona, Facultat de Geologia, http://www.ub.edu/geologia/

Programme: FP7

Project Acronym:

Target groups: secondary school students, teachers

Topic: Geology, Education

Start year: 2014

End year: 2016

Url: http://www.ub.edu/laubdivulga/barcelonarocks/

Contact person: Luis Cabrera Pérez, lluis.cabrera (at) ub.edu, and Xavier Delclos Martinez, xdelclos (at) ub.edu

The first version of this project is an application for smart mobile devices, more specifically for small screen smartphones. This may be extended to smart mobile devices with larger screens, like tablets. For the development of the project, it is crucial to look at the application’s usability in navigation and communication contexts. Therefore, the structuring of content dedicated to the small screen gives priority to allowing the user to interact intuitively and naturally.

This app is designed with the aim of reaching a maximum number of terminals on the market of such devices. Several versions of the application are deployed on selected platforms – (iOS and Android)– and natively, to get the most out of the devices’ functions. The development of the application for these two major platforms is expected to reach about 90% of all smartphone users. In addition to having the application available for two operating systems, it will be designed and developed to have maximum compatibility with most 'smartphone' devices present in the domestic market.

A thorough investigation of geology and rock subjects in two application markets – (AppStore and Google Play) – shows there are no alternatives to the one developed by this project. The general trend focuses on applications that catalogue either types of rocks or geological features (sometimes presented as test multi-answer questions). But they focus neither on how they have influenced nor on their significance in the historical context of the city and its architectural elements; and they never take the elements of the city as the narrative axis. Other kinds of application trends explain theoretical foundations in geology but lack the interactivity that enables the user to see the result of the changes he or she makes.

The Barcelona Rocks application introduces the science of geology, proposing a set of routes and emblematic environments that users will find very close to them in their city, such as public buildings, museums or banks. In this way, users will discover from the recognised rocks, what are their basic descriptive characteristics, genesis, classification and provenance, among other things. In addition, they learn through interactive practices how to differentiate among them and do simulated experiments that make learning more intuitive, educational and friendly.

 

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