St. John Explorer

St. John eighth graders tour the U.S. Capitol using their St. John Explorer app
St. John eighth graders tour the U.S. Capitol using their St. John Explorer app.


Inspired by ProjectWA, St. John Catholic School in Seattle, Washington created its own app, St. John Explorer, using the 468 Field Trip platform. The app engages students in their history curriculum while creating a fundraising platform for the school. 

Every year the seventh and eighth graders at St. John take class trips as part of their social studies. In the spring of 2017, St. John’s middle school students set out to explore two Washingtons with the help of the mobile app they built together in class. Fifty-two students visited the Washington State Capitol, Yakima, Spokane, Leavenworth and historic places along the way, earning points at every stop using their app, St. John Explorer. Their eighth-grade colleagues conducted a similar trip to Washington, D.C.

“We collaborated with students to give them more control over their trips and reward them for engaging with history along the way,” said Paul Kelley, Assistant Principal at St. John School. “We saw a lot more interest in state and U.S. history as a result.”

The students built their app using 468 Field Trip. During class, students researched and wrote descriptions of the places they planned to visit on their Washington State and Washington, D.C. trips. Those locations were then added to the St. John Explorer app via the 468 Field Trip dashboard and assigned point values, which users of the app can collect when they physically visit those places. Points accumulated with the app can be redeemed for goods or services at Rewards locations listed in the app. Upon their return to Seattle, students could redeem their points at local businesses, which included free hot chocolates at Diva Espresso, which is across the street from St. John School.

The 468 Field Trip platform is an important tool for project-based, student-directed learning. By meeting students where they tend to be – on a mobile device – education apps like St. John Explorer give them more control over and investment in what they were studying. The gamification of the experience makes the learning process more fun and rewarding.

With St. John Explorer in place, St. John Catholic School has a new fundraising platform. The administration now can approach businesses in the community who are interested in being rewards locations in the app. By paying for that presence, businesses not only can support their community school, they can see a return on that investment when new customers enter their business as a result of using the app.

St. John Explorer is available as a free download from the iTunes App Store and Google Play.