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New app brings history alive

By Staff | Oct 28, 2016

Ogden Newspaper photo by Ron Agnir From left, Candy Cain, retired Jefferson County Schools teacher; Bondy Shay Gibson, JCS superintendent; Dennis Frye, HFNHP chief historian; Dominic Sinibaldi, HeresMyStory CEO; Avery Chenoweth, HeresMyStory founder, and David Williams, board chairman of The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, are pictured at a Wednesday press conference in Harpers Ferry.

Students will soon being learning their history lessons on their cellphones.

Using “Time Trekkers,” a digital storytelling platform, students travel on an interactive historical journey through Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, telling real stories about historical figures and events that took place at Harpers Ferry.

Jefferson County Schools and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park have formed a partnership through the interactive app that will be used to teach students local historical events.

The partnerhip was unvieled along with Time Trekkers at a press conference on Wednesday held at the site where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet.

The app was created by educational technology and development company HeresMyStory.com, LLC, and the curriculum was developed by Jefferson County Schools’ teachers.

HeresMyStory has also partnered with The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the Harpers Ferry Historical Association and Jefferson County Schools.

Fourth and fifth grade students from six Jefferson County schools participated in three weeks of beta testing of the app. Student groups went on a field trip to HFNP where they were given a map and one cell phone. Using the app, students are assigned the first name of a historical figure.

The Student groups go through time portals to different parts of HFNHP where they meet characters, are faced with situations and called on to make decisions. Teams earn points as they progess through the game.

Students interact with history through the lives and adventures of various characters: a nurse, a solider, a slave and a townsperson. Using media including augmented reality, video,and audio, the app immerses the user in the location.

“This is the next evolution of schools in education,” said Bondy Shea Gibson, superintendent of Jefferson County Schools.

A final version of the app is scheduled to be released next summer, said Dominic Sinibaldi, CEO of HeresMyStory. The company also plans to develop the app for other grade levels.

Sinibaldi said the software is designed to get students literally involved with historical situations and people.

“One thing the journey stresses, is making history live again,” Sinibaldi said. “How do we get our kids engaged in history?”