There’s something magical and thrilling about following a butterfly through the air. To get a closer look at the little winged wonders, it used to be necessary to catch them in a net, damaging their delicate wings and bodies along the way. To teach children how to explore and observe nature without causing any harm, designers Zhang Cheng, Tuo Jin, Lin-en Wang, and Xiaoneng Jin have created the E-catch Net that lets the insect pass through with ease. As the bug travels through the hoop, its body is scanned and the information collected may be downloaded to a computer for further study.
Once the butterfly has been scanned and its information entered into a computer, a program creates a print-out that contains an image and instructions on how to fold an origami figure. While the E-Catch net does not allow for close-up inspection in full dimension, it at least strikes a balance between play, learning, and kindness towards the environment. The invention has the advantage of keeping both bug and child safe and free to observe without having to house decomposing specimens. Using data to identify species or make a virtual collection is a wonderful way to train the next generation of biologists while also familiarizing children with technology and the ethos of leaving as little impact as possible.