Thursday, 20 June 2013 13:29

Tech and Teens: SSHS Students Create Virtual Walking Tour

By Patricia Older | News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Combining Saratoga’s history with today’s technology, students of Saratoga Springs High School’s 21st Century Academy program designed an application for the iPhone which will allow users to have a virtual educational tour of the Spa City’s historic landmarks and buildings.

The students worked with Garnet River, a local software and technology development firm and developed the application for the iPhone that gives users a walking tour of Saratoga Springs’ historical places and buildings, mapping out directions and providing archival images and present-day pictures. 

The application was the idea of the Saratoga 150 committee who approached Garnet River about designing the app. Garnet River specializes in custom software and cutting-edge enterprise services for businesses. 

“We thought it was important to support the next generation,” said Colleen Parker McMahon, general counsel at Garnet River, adding that the six students selected to actually work on the application were “truly amazing” in their knowledge of graphic design and the careful balance between an application, its design and the business or organization it is made for. 

In total, 83 students worked on the application, whether through the research or the actual designing of it. 

“The application was a joint effort of the 21st Century Academy, led by Mrs. Leanne Donelan at Saratoga Springs High School, and Garnet River,” said McMahon. “The Saratoga Springs High School students conducted the research, tracked down archival images and put together the language and visual elements of the application.”

Garnet River’s development center worked with the students to engineer an application that would best present the students’ discoveries to the public. 

“As a national provider of sophisticated technology for businesses, Garnet River is uniquely positioned to allow Saratoga Springs students a window into the business world and provide them experiences that will prepare them for the world post-graduation,” continued McMahon. 

Once you download the free Tour Through Time application, the first page gives the user four choices—About, which explains what the app is for and what it covers; the Broadway Tour; Congress Park Tour; and East Side Tour. 

The Broadway Tour covers 10 places including the Broadway House, the Adelphi and City Hall. The page has a map similar to Google maps with pinpoints at each location. Click on one of the pins and the app jumps to that particular location and another page appears. 

For example, the Broadway House gives a detailed history on the location—it is now the present day Saratoga Hilton—as well as three photographs of it including the Broadway House in 1907, the Kiley Gas Station in 1978 and the present day City Center. (The caption for the Kiley explains that the building that was once the Kiley Gas Station was moved down Broadway in 1978 and now serves as the Bread Basket Café).

The app also uses the iPhone’s map feature which has a blinking blue dot indicating your actual position in relation to the buildings and landmarks, as well as allows for a street view of the “tour.”

The Congress Park Tour has the eight main features of the park including the Katrina Trask stairs, Spit & Spat and the Thorvaldsen Vases.  (The vases were carved by sculptor Thorvaldsen in an effort to beautify Congress Park.)

The East Side Tour takes the app user up Union Avenue to Madame Jumel’s House and over to the Marvin House, located on the corner of Franklin and Division streets. (Madame Jumel was infamous for her lifestyle and the men she married. She was raised into prostitution like her mother and later went on to marry Stephen Jumel whom she met thorugh her “work,” and when he died, she inherited his money. She later married vice president Aaron Burr, whom she divorced. She purchased the house in 1851 for $3,180).

Each location gives some interesting historical facts about the building or landmark. 

McMahon said the students worked on the application since January, with the six actually coming into Garnet River on a weekly basis to develop the program. 

She noted that the students are really excited about developing the application and the possibility of its uses this summer with the 150 celebration. 

“The Saratoga Springs business community has a long history of taking an active interest the Saratoga Springs School District; Garnet River is proud to continue the tradition by lending its skills, resources and goodwill to help educate the next generation of Saratogians,” said McMahon.  “Both the Saratoga Springs High School students and Garnet River are honored to be a part of the Saratoga 150 celebration.”

Tour Through Time by Garnet River is available for free download in the iTunes store, by searching Saratoga Tour.

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