Jr. Ranger Education Module for Anza Trail Website

Anza Jr. Ranger Start Page
Client:   National Park Service - Anza Historic Trail

Engaging kids in both the outdoors and in historical learning is an important combination. The National Park Service asked GreenInfo to improve a much older Junior Ranger Program website for the Anza Historic Trail, bringing it into the Anza web site we developed previously.

Building upon its work developing the Anza Historic Trail public website, GreenInfo was asked to redesign the “Anza Historic Trail Junior Ranger Program”. This Junior Ranger Program is an online educational role-play allowing a younger audience to learn about the history of the Anza Expedition in a playful way by following a virtual expedition step by step from Western Mexico to San Francisco.   The game supports customization of the experience based on the character selected: panels can be displayed only for specific characters, or the same panel can show different content based on the character.

This redesign aimed to achieve two main goals:
  • The existing Junior Ranger Program website was very dated visually and technically (it asked for a choice of 300 baud modem or high speed line - at the time, important to ask!). Our first goal was to give it a more modern appearance and new functions in order to make it as appealing and engaging to kids as the other websites and applications they love using (within our very modest budget, however). It was also important to make it compatible with tablets devices which are heavily used by young people.
  • The Junior Ranger Program was running as an independent website which made it harder to access and to relate to the actual Anza Historic Trail website. A second part of the project aimed at integrating the redesigned version of the virtual expedition within the existing Anza Historic Trail website.
Our process started with understanding and streamlining the intricate sitemap of the existing Junior Ranger Program website in order to keep only essential content and leave out unnecessary steps along the virtual expedition. Then we designed an entirely new user interface to accommodate the game that could be easily integrated within the Anza Historic Trail website. Eventually, we brought selected textual and visual content from the original Junior Ranger Program over to the newly created interface.

The Expedition is an extensible architecture, allowing the game to be modified easily. It is based on a concept of "panels", and moving on to the next panel involves any of three tasks: simply clicking the Next button, clicking a specific marker on the map, or clicking the correct answer or image from a list of those provided. New panels can be added, and content broken into separate panels with moments of effort. The site also has an archive of sounds and images that come into play during the game, or can be accessed as an archive.

By carefully assessing and understanding the initial game’s structure (helped by a careful analysis by NPS staff!) and by developing a flexible framework to accommodate the new virtual expedition, we managed to efficiently leverage the existing Junior Ranger Program, getting maximum results with limited effort. Such flexibility also allowed us to easily enrich game content on client’s request as we were developing the interactive expedition.

GreenInfo Intern Charles Antoine-Perrault developed major parts of this application, in collaboration with staffer Greg Allensworth.

Focus:   Environment, Government Agencies  

Services:  Interactive Solutions, Applications Development, Website Design 

Tags:   trails  

Project Years: 2014

GreenInfo Network creates, analyzes, visualizes and communicates information in the public interest. We specialize in mapping and related technology for nonprofits and public agencies, focusing on using it for conservation, social equity, public health, environment and foundation grant making.
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