About FVvr

About the FVvr (Fort Vancouver Virtual Reality)




How It All Started

        This project started back in December 2013, when I visited the fort with a colleague to think about some possible projects.  During the visit we walked around with the sun shining and the wind howling.  We wanted to get out of the wind and back into the past.  Unfortunately, many of the buildings were locked and inaccessible.  That night I was exploring Mount St. Helens on Google Maps and Earth.  I discovered users could share their 360º photos on Google Maps.  I tried to upload one that I had taken that past summer when I was at the summit of the mountain, but it wouldn't load.  I found that you had to use the Google Photosphere app (now Google Street View) in order to do this.

        After a bit more searching I came across the Ricoh Theta M camera.  This camera allowed the user to take a photosphere with the click of a button rather than having to use the Street View app and take 30+ pictures that get stitched together.  I got really excited about the possibilities this new camera could have.  When I got back from winter break I showed my principal, Christina Iremonger, the camera and she she "Let's get one!"  After purchasing one, I started to play around with it taking pictures and videos while hiking around Mount St. Helens and Multnomah Falls.  I started to load pictures to Google Maps, and knew that somehow we could make our own Google Street View tours.

        Enter the Fort Vancouver.  I knew that I wanted to do a local history project where our students explore our local community.  Fort Vancouver was the perfect fit.  I started to think about the students making the tour so that we could share our history with the community and the world.  I began speaking with Tessa, and her colleague Greg, about the idea and they got excited about the possibility of partnering with our iTech students.  We held off on trying to crunch it into last school year, which ended up being a great thing.  

        As I planned the project over the summer, Ricoh came out with a more superior camera and the Holobuilder web app came out.  These two advances would enable the students to create a far better product than we would have had.  A product that allows for virtual reality using a viewer like Google Cardboard or View-Master.  I created a sample street view tour, showed Tessa and Bob at the fort, and the wheels were in motion.  My colleague, David Midkiff, and I planned the project around teaching the students to think like an archaeologist, along with enhancing their research, writing, speaking, and technology skills.  

        What you see here are the results of a tremendous amount of work by all of our 7th & 8th grade Washington St. History students.  We hope you enjoy it!


            - John M. Zingale



 
How It Grew

        After the success that we had creating the interactive virtual tour back in 2016, Tessa, Bob, and I just knew that we had to continue the partnership the next time that I taught Washington State History. We took some time off, and I presented about the project at conferences across the country such at the National Council for the Social Studies and the Northwest Council for Computer Education. Teachers from across the country were amazed that this was done by middle school students. When the three of us sat down to brainstorm new ideas for this project, I brought along our Computer Science / Robotics teacher Cyndy Hagin. I just knew that adding her expertise into the mix would help move us all forward.

        I had the idea to try some type of augmented reality experience for the fort kind of like Pokemon Go. I wasn't sure how to do that, but that is part of the creative process that I love as a project-based teacher. I get to explore and learn new things all the time. Cyndy and I dug in and learned some different things. We explored with Metaverse and HP Reveal (formerly Aurasma). After some time passed and discussions with what the fort wanted/needed we decided to go in a couple of directions. 

         We obviously wanted to tackle the issue of making the fort more interactive for people, and leveraging technology to do that. We all wanted to give our clients their voice in the process. Tessa and Bob knew that they wanted to tackle a problem that all museums face, "How do we showcase more artifacts to the public when we don't have the space?" This is where Cyndy and I could split off our classes to focus on these two different issues. I would tackle the History and Archaeology for Virtual Museum, and she would tackle the interactive experiences through developing mobile apps.

        In order create the 3D scans of the artifacts, I began playing around with a 3D scanner, but found it difficult and I wasn't sure that it would work for many of the artifacts that we would be getting. That is when I learned about photogrammetry. Photogrammetry utilizes pictures, LOTS AND LOTS of pictures, to calculate out the geometry of the the object using the overlapping details in the photos. I started off using PhotoScan by Agisoft, and while I like that is used by professionals, I wasn't sure that we would be successful with it. Luckily, ,after some more digging, I came across the app Qlone. This app makes the photogrammetry process much easier as it utilizes Apple's AR Kit to cast an augmented reality dome around the object. The app had some issues and crashes, but it allowed ALL of my students to be able to successfully scan, and digitally curate an artifact from the fort. 

        We also wanted our virtual museum to be accessible to all, thankfully that's where SketchFab came in. SketchFab is a fantastic place where we could host our 3D artifact scans, along with text and audio analysis from the students. We were then able to embed all of that into what you see here. Then using metadata, that the students generated, we used an AwesomeTable to make the museum searchable by artifact material, archaeological theme, and key words. Some students even figured out how to make our .gif files run within the database to make it much more visually appealing and interactive. 

        The results you see on the following pages, demonstrate an extreme dedication of our Washington State History students to being amateur archaeologists and historians in the digital world. This is why I love using what I call my HiPstory approach to learning. It gives students a Hands-on, individualized, project-based approach to engaging and learning History and Social Studies. We hope you enjoy it and share it with others everywhere, so that they can learn about the beginnings of our wonderful city.


            - John M. Zingale


    
    
 
Apps & Interactive Experiences

        Students in our Introduction to Computer Science classes began with the questions:
  • How can technology enhance learning about Fort Vancouver and the world?
  • How can we share Fort Vancouver with the community and the world?
  • How can we engage more people while visiting Fort Vancouver?
        As classes, we brainstormed the types of people (audiences) that would interact with the fort, as well as needs that those audiences might have. Students used this information as they started the Design Process for their app/interactive experience.

Step 1: Complete a Project Proposal
        The Project Proposal identifies the working title of the app, the target audience, the purpose of the app, a description of what the app does, samples of the pages a user would see as they navigate the app, the workflow of the app--how it does what it does, and the timeline. This is the type of document a client would sign off on after contracting with an app designer. As a Career & Technical Education (CTE) course, we try to follow the same process as those working in the industry.

Step 2: Build the User Interface
        The User Interface (UI) is what the user interacts with (buttons, information, images). Once the user has the "bones" of the app created, different team members may start programming the app. 

Step 3: Programming
        Once the UI is created, partners may code different portions of the app at the same time. Some teams also employed pair programming, which has one partner "driving" the computer while the other "navigates"--guiding the driver as they code. Depending on the app, students are creating variables, loops, conditionals and procedures to make their app work.
        Although we had grand visions of being able to use Metaverse and HP Reveal, issues with technology resulted in students creating apps with MIT App Inventor or, for those with prior programming experience, Visual Studio.

Step 4 (throughout): Notebook Entries
        Students track the progress they are making on their app in their computer science notebook. They make an entry each day they work on their app. Students record the progress, what their goals are for next class, and any debugging (fixing errors in code) they performed on their app.

Step 5 (throughout): Version Control
        One of the advantages of Google Docs is it allows the user to look back at revisions, in case information is deleted. When programming, it is also important to save versions of your app as it develops. This allows the developer to go back to a previous version if something s/he tried does not work. 
        Since most students were working in partners on this project, Google Drive was utilized as a way to save each version of the program. Partners were able to save all versions, along with any pictures and documents in a shared folder in their Google Drive. This allowed each partner to have access to all materials at all times. This also allowed  students to delete old versions of their app from App Inventor to keep their projects minimized.

Step 6: Incorporating Feedback
        Part of the process in all software development is incorporating feedback, preferably from end users (those who will be using the software). Although many students have been receiving feedback from peers throughout the development process, students hope to have people from their target audience give feedback prior to completing their apps.

Step 7: Fine Tuning and Publication
        Students will be publishing their finished apps by posting their .apk files on the FVvr website as well as uploading their apps to Google Play. Check back for access!

            - Cyndy Hagin