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Chamber members step back in time using ‘Time Trekkers’

By Staff | Nov 25, 2016

Members of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce traveled to Harpers Ferry Friday to test out the new “Time Trekkers” app that will soon be used to teach students about local history.

“Time Trekkers,” a digital storytelling platform, allows the user to travel on a historical journey using their cell phone. The journey, taken through Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, tells real stories about real people. At the same time, the user, in a role-playing scenario, can feasibly change history by making decisions that don’t necessarily coincide with history.

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 joined with The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the Harpers Ferry Historical Association and Jefferson County Schools in a partnership endeavor.

Students have tested the app during recent field trips to the National Park. The Chamber members provided another test group to try out the new educational technology.

Breaking into groups of four to five, each group was provided with a phone loaded with the app and a map to follow the course throughout the town. Each person was assigned a character based on real people and each person took a turn being in charge of using the app and a turn in reading the map to guide the group.

The mobile app contains three stories currently, said Dominic Sinibaldi, CEO of HeresMyStory.

“Allowing the students to make the decisions helps them learn about the history,” Sinibaldi said. The process using a variety of augmented reality, video and audio, immersing the user in the location.

The Chamber members could be seen traversing throughout the town as they listened to the voice in the mobile unit tell them which possible way to travel and asked them questions with two different possible answers.

At the end of the day, the adults enjoyed the outing, as did all of the school children who tested the app previously.

Harpers Ferry Park Ranger Dennis Frye shared that the mobile app, which is scheduled to be released officially in the coming months, will allow more people to have a “guided” tour of the Harpers Ferry Park.

“Every character in the trekker is a park ranger,” Frye said. The inability to provide each tourist their own guided tour by a park ranger can now be done using this mobile app.

A final version of the app is scheduled to be released next summer, said Sinibaldi. 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. The adult participants, although many knew the actual history, still learned things from the experience. Many indicated they would like to return to the park to try the other two journeys offered in Time Trekkers.