SMS tells Indiana's bicentennial story using future technology

SMS tells Indiana's bicentennial story using future technology
Posted on 12/07/2016

Scottsburg Middle School students are using technology — in form of augmented reality — to tell the history of Indiana’s bicentennial.

“Indiana’s 200th anniversary is an important milestone in our state’s history, and I wanted to use it as a chance to showcase our students’ ability to use technology and tie it in with the event,” said Tony Hicks, SMS social studies teacher and coordinator of the project.

Last spring, Hicks started thinking about this once-in-a-lifetime project to commemorate Indiana’s 200th year of statehood. He created a concept over the summer and launched it in the fall with the help of his colleagues at SMS.

“It’s a collaboration. It’s a community-based project,” Hicks said. “The staff and students could build into the project. Jane Naugle helped write the instructions. Chris VonDissen’s class described all of the Indiana symbols. Jeremy and Amber Zeigenbein provided technical support. Lori Hill’s class is providing a hospitality room. Tiffany Copple’s sixth-grade digital literacy class worked on projects.”

For two weeks last month, SMS students worked during their 25-minute homeroom, or BOOST, period to research, cultivate, create, and complete their project for the state bicentennial timeline. Each grade level had a specific time period in Indiana’s history to work with, and the final product of their project was a 30-second to one-minute long, high-quality video. The projects were not for a grade but were a way to learn and share about Indiana’s rich history.

“The project was freeform. You could be as creative as you wanted to be,” Hicks said.  

Along with the video, the groups of up to three students had to provide a trigger picture for the augmented reality app, Aurasma, so visitors could interact with the timeline museum. Aurasma allows users to turn any object, image, or place into an augmented reality experience, where real-life, physical objects are enhanced with technology.  By using Aurasma, SMS students could bring to life their trigger pictures with graphics, animation, video, audio, and 3D content. In this case, the Apple-distinguished middle school brought their physical trigger photos to life with video content.

“Aurasma is a free, augmented reality app that I was first introduced to at [the International Society for Technology in Education conference] about three years ago. Since then, I’ve been using it in my classroom to bring word walls and notebook pages to life,” said Amber Zeigenbein, seventh-grade science teacher at SMS. “I thought the timeline would look better if we could see pictures of the people, places and things in our history. Aurasma allowed us to do that. When you focus the device over a picture it triggers a video to play. This allowed the timeline to look good and be functional.”

Some of the students used multiple apps, such as Keynote, Tellagami, Chatterpix, iMovie, and Aurasma, to make one finished project.

“The project when viewed on the wall looks fairly simple: a video overlayed on top of an image. Yet, it takes massive amounts of work to get students from point A to B, especially when they are beginners at many of these products,” said Copple, a sixth-grade teacher at SMS. “Technologically speaking, it was a great learning experience in following directions and becoming fluent in a variety of apps. Otherwise, it was a great endeavor learning more about our state!”

Eighth-grade student Kristen Skelton created her video on the Fall Creek Massacre, where nine American Indians were murdered by white settlers in 1824. This was first documented case where white settlers were tried, convicted, sentenced, and executed for their crimes against American Indians using the laws of the United States.

“It was really great to do it with the whole school,” Skelton said. I didn’t know the Fall Creek Massacre was a thing until I did this project.”

Avery Kendall, an eighth-grade student, agreed with Skelton’s sentiment on discovering more about Indiana’s history than she knew before participating in the SMS bicentennial project.

“I learned a lot,” said Kendall, who focused her video on the founding of University of Notre Dame in 1842. “I didn’t know it was founded during the coldest years Indiana ever had.”

On a frigid afternoon in November 1842, a French priest and seven other members were given 542 snow-covered acres to start the University of Notre Dame.

For eighth-grade student Sam Everett, he wanted to explore the history of the word that universally identifies Indiana natives — Hoosier.

“There are a bunch of theories. No one knows where it started,” Everett said. “I wanted to know the history behind it.”

With Skelton, Kendall, and Everett’s projects, the SMS timeline contains more than 100 trigger pictures and videos for visitors to see and experience. The middle school will host an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7 for the community, parents, students, and others to see the projects and learn more about Indiana’s 200 years of statehood. Light refreshments will be available along with a tour guide to take visitors through the project and the technology behind it.

“I wanted our school and our district to be represented in this important moment in Indiana’s history,” Hicks said. “It was truly a collaborative effort. The whole building supported it,” Hicks said.

At Scott County School District 2, Scottsburg Middle School's story is our story. Your story matters. You matter.