Phone app takes you on learning trails across S'pore

Phone app takes you on learning trails across S'pore

WANT to learn more about Singapore's heritage and history? Download a smartphone app called PocketTrips SG50 and prepare to take a walk around the island.

At least 15 trails designed by primary and secondary schools here are being mapped out on the app and are expected to be ready in time for the nation's 50th birthday in August.

The project is part of the Ministry of Education's mySG Trails and Exhibitions programme, which aims to commemorate Singapore's journey since achieving independence in 1965.

Some trails highlight the history of neighbourhoods such as Ang Mo Kio and Hougang, while others are topic-based, including one designed by Yusof Ishak Secondary School that focuses on Singapore's presidents.

Two trails that wind through Katong are already available. As people follow the route and visit the landmarks, they will be able to see how the neighbourhood has changed and what it was like to grow up there.

Another trail designed by a cluster of 13 schools, including Serangoon Garden Secondary School, focuses on places of worship in Serangoon Gardens, revealing the rich tapestry of religions and cultures that make up Singapore.

Participants on the trail will learn more about Hinduism through the Darma Muneeswaran Temple and Buddhism through the Hiang Foo Siang Temple.

They will also be able to see Singapore through the eyes of its Muslim and Catholic communities at the Al Istiqamah Mosque and St Francis Xavier Church respectively.

The project is a collaboration between the schools, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and local firm LDR, which develops mobile trails for education, tourism, events and other sectors.

LDR business development and training director David Mok said the schools' teachers and students created the content for the trails, while LDR provided storyboard templates and turned the ideas into reality.

He said: "Each of the trails has a storyline, and there are also location-based quizzes and activities that make use of the phone's ability to record video and audio.

"Traditionally, teachers would give out pen-and-paper worksheets for students going on a trail but, with this app, you can do creative re-enactments or ask students to record videos that explain the landmarks."

A*Star contributed image-recognition technology from its Institute for Infocomm Research. The content on the trails is triggered by GPS when people get near the landmarks or when they point their phone at the site to take a specified picture.

Aljunied resident Gavin Chen, 35, an accountant, said he would try the Katong trails. "I go there a lot to eat, but I don't really know anything about the neighbourhood's history. This might be a good way to find out."

The PocketTrips SG50 app is available from Google Play for Android users. The iOS version is expected to be available from the iTunes App Store by next month.

For more details about the mobile trail and other trails or to sign up for guided walks, go to http://mysg-trails-exhibitions.moe.edu.sg/ and check out the programmes and registration page.

zengkun@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 4, 2015.
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