New interactive app launched for National Mall visitors

New interactive app launched for National Mall visitors. (ABC7)

After the Pokémon Go craze last summer, the National Park Service is encouraging National Mall visitors to download a new augmented reality, mobile gaming experience. It's a free, educational app for kids.

With help from fifth graders from D.C.’S School Within School, the American Recreation Coalition and National Park Service launched the Agents of Discovery app on the National Mall.

Like Pokémon Go, the game encourages players to explore real-life sites. Agents of Discovery features what it calls mission sites with quizzes along the way.

Rangers collaborated with the app maker to design a fun, informative experience that also follows park restrictions, learning from Pokémon Go's rollout, mindful that some sites are for solemn reflection.

National Park Service chief of interpretation & education Paul Ollig said, “It will take them to the front steps of the memorial but not into the chamber itself.”

The Park Service will still offer the traditional, pen and paper Junior Rangers Program. But rangers believe this app provides more content and might better connect with children used to using smart-phones and tablets.

“They're already using these devices at these sites,” Ollig said. “So why don't we look for ways that we can engage them with their devices and have their devices help them to not only look down but look up at the sites as well?”

Children who complete the National Mall mission can pick up a special Discovery Agent patch at a National Mall park bookstore.

The Park Service is now looking into possibly developing its own augmented reality app for kids and adults.

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