January 9, 2017

‘1600’ App Offers Augmented-Reality Tour of White House Grounds

By Rob Klindt, Contributing Writer | Literacy Resources

If you have a dollar, you’re in luck. A single greenback is all it takes to launch a cool virtual tour of the exterior of the White House and the grounds at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C.

For teachers in tablet-enabled classrooms, a new educational app offers a fun way to engage students while they learn about the history and symbolism of the building often called “The People’s House.”

The White House Historical Association and Nexus Studios partnered to build the free app, which targets elementary school students and makes a great supplement for social studies, civics, history and current events lesson plans.

Getting started

Before launching the app, place a $1 bill face up on a well-lit table. Flatten as many wrinkles in the bill as possible. No registration is needed, so students can launch the app right away by tapping its onscreen icon.

There are many fun dynamic features to keep students engaged while they learn the material. Among the most helpful:

  • Animation
  • Audio prompts
  • Augmented-reality images
  • Narration
  • Sound effects

The colorful augmented-reality images will appeal to visual learners who respond to shapes and colors. And kinesthetic learners will enjoy the motions and tactile activities that keep the app moving.

How it works

After the app launches, tap the “Start” button and follow the prompts.

Aim the device camera at the dollar bill with the image of George Washington centered on the screen. Move the device closer or farther from the dollar bill until it’s in focus. An audio prompt will confirm when the focus is just right.

Keep holding the device, and an augmented-reality image of the White House appears with audio narration explaining the history, symbolism and importance the building has played in American history.

While listening to the narration, students can move the device around to see the White House from various top, side and front angles. Meanwhile, animation kicks in to show visitors, lawmakers and security people entering and exiting the building, while military helicopters overhead protect the president and the grounds.

It’s important to keep the device focused on the dollar bill; if it’s moved too far away, the presentation will stop and must be restarted. Finally, students can save a screenshot from the presentation to their device by tapping the camera icon in the lower right corner of the screen.

What’s included

Content in the “1600” app is all inclusive. Once it’s been downloaded to a device, all the features, including images, animation, narration, sounds and video, will work without an internet connection.

There are no advertisements or in-app purchases, and registration isn’t required.

Download details

The “1600” app by the White House Historical Association is free. It can be downloaded from iTunes and is compatible with iPhones and iPad tablets running iOS version 8.0 or later. It’s also available on Google Play and works with smartphones and digital tablets running the Android operating system 4.0 or later.

Rob Klindt’s “App Reviews” combine his passion for writing with an ever-growing interest in educational technology. His simple, straightforward approach to reviewing educational apps help educators and parents leverage new tools for students in and out of the classroom.

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