In response to the huge demand for free, fun and active outdoor experiences, the City of Los Angeles has partnered with parks and public spaces across Southern California to get people exploring, learning and having fun with their families. The SoCal Explorer Campaign uses Agents of Discovery®, an educational technology app that enables educators to create their own augmented reality games. Think Pokémon GO for parks and education.
Bob Blumenfield, Councilmember of LA’s Third District, says, “As you explore, you’ll learn about local plant and bug life, wildfire prevention, conservation efforts and much more. Good luck with your Mission and I hope to see you at Reseda Park.”
The SoCal Explorer 4.0 Campaign ran from September 23rd to December 18th, 2022, and will continue to run annually. Anyone can join in by downloading the free Agents of Discovery app and completing “Missions” or games at participating locations. To find the nearest location to you, click here. Each Mission has educational “Challenges” that teach players about local history, culture, ecosystems and safety. For example, at Griffith Park, players can learn about the history of Los Angeles and the plants and animals that live in the park. At Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, players can learn about Elasmobranchs, a class of animals that include sharks, skates and rays.
LA County also has many exciting Missions to play. Kim Bosell, Natural Areas Administrator for LA County Parks, says, “By using the Agents of Discovery app, you can use augmented reality to help you connect to local plants and wildlife, and to learn amazing facts about them.”
The campaign has amazing prizes to reward players, or “Agents”. At each site, players receive a fun patch featuring the avatar for that Mission. Agents also receive a SoCal Explorer badge once they have completed three Missions: A SoCal Advanced Explorer badge upon completing six, and a Super SoCal Explorer badge after completing nine. On top of that, players who complete at least five Missions will be entered in a draw to win a $25 gift card to Disney, Target or AMC and tickets to Travel Town train rides from Griffith Park Train Rides. The grand prize is an Apple Watch SE!
Dalia (pictured above) won tickets to the Huntington Gardens in last year’s SoCal Explorer Campaign. She earned the patches on her shirt by completing SoCal Explorer Missions.
Jenann Elias, the winner of the Apple Watch from last year, said, “Over the past year, it’s been so important to me to stay healthy as well as getting out in nature. The SoCal Explorer Campaign allowed me to enjoy local spots and discover new sites! The games are family-friendly and fun, while allowing me to explore the wonders of nature. Thanks for this fun opportunity!”
Another exciting part of the SoCal Explorer is the Smokey Bear 3.0 Mission. The USDA Forest Service and Edison International have developed a Smokey Bear Mission for the third year in a row to communicate vital human-caused wildfire prevention messages. This Mission teaches players about campfire safety, forest health and more. The Mission is playable at many SoCal Explorer locations. Smokey Bear 3.0 is available in English and Spanish.
In previous years, the Smokey Bear Mission was promoted by the beloved Betty White.
“If playing this game and learning about wildfire prevention helps us reduce even one human-caused wildfire, it would be so worthy of our time,” says Amtchat Edwards, Partnership Coordinator, USDA Forest Service.
The So Cal Explorer Program runs annually in the Fall and you can get more info at https://agentsofdiscovery.com/socal-explorer.