Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2018
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PlantSnap Plant Identification

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Snap pics to (maybe) identify flowers and plants

Subjects & skills
  • Science

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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5 images

Pros: Beautiful app with well-presented plant information, well-organized taxonomy.

Cons: Not 100 percent accurate; likely match percentages can be confusing.

Bottom Line: If teachers help students learn how to evaluate the plant matches provided, this could be an excellent nature reference source.

PlantSnap Plant Identification is essentially a reference app with a twist. Teachers and students can use it to supplement botany lessons with hands-on learning in their natural environment. Use PlantSnap on plants and flowers in the classroom, on your playground, or on a field trip. PlantSnap may also be an excellent way to give concrete examples related to lessons in plant taxonomy and specific examples within the plant classification system. 

Be sure to help kids understand that the app will not always provide a correct match and that what's most important is the process of evaluating the results -- and making a decision based on the evidence. Have kids practice identifying the same plants in groups and then compare their evaluation process with each other. 

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PlantSnap Plant Identification is a citizen-science app that allows users to take pictures of a plant and evaluate the results to determine the species. Each time students match a plant, the information gets fed into a database that improves the identification ability of the app. To use PlantSnap, an adult must register the app with an email or Facebook account. First, watch the instructional video. Tap the Snap icon and center your camera on the plant you want to identify (also choose to grant or deny the app permission to use your location). Get close to the leaves or flowers and center them for correct analysis. Pinch or expand the image for best centering and fit. You can also identify plant images already saved on your phone. The app will identify the most likely plant and also give alternative choices. Select what result you think is the best match and tap Accept -- or if it doesn't match what you think it is, tap Decline. Users can view the plants' scientific names and categories, origins, and most common locations, and there's a companion website that syncs with the app.

As long as teachers and students understand that this is an imperfect plant identification tool, then PlantSnap Plant Identification can be good for learning. Consider the plant identifications on PlantSnap as suggestions rather than definitive answers. That said, the app does get it right a lot of the time. The information given is relevant, in-depth, and interesting, and it helps users decide if the app's suggested identified match is correct. Overall, the process of students taking the photos, reviewing the suggestions, and accepting or declining the match may be even more useful than the app's product of identifying the plant. PlantSnap offers students an excellent decision-making and evidence-evaluating experience -- even if the app doesn't get the correct plant match 100 percent of the time. 

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The app has beautiful images of plants and well-organized taxonomy info. Some students may be frustrated that there aren't always perfect matches, but hopefully over time they'll appreciate the evaluation process.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Students supply their own photos of plants and flowers for the app's software to identify. Kids can learn how to make decisions about whether to accept the app's suggested plant match based on what they read. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

There's a basic instructional tutorial, and contact help is available. It would be better if the app explained the margin of error and provided other resources students could use to verify findings.

Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

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