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American History / Adventure Games


History is a hard subject to teach well. High school history teachers have to engage their students, not just in learning about the past but in “doing history”––analyzing primary source documents to use in support of arguments about past events. Students often struggle with historical thinking skills such as sourcing, contextualization, and close reading, particularly in the context of unfamiliar and challenging historical documents.

TimeSnap is an interactive learning experience that uses mobile virtual reality (VR) to support high school students in learning how to perform challenging document-based inquiries. Through the 12-15 minute experience, TimeSnap helps students “visit the past” and understand how people, places, and events are all connected to the creation and use of the primary source documents that they are examining in the classroom. A character in the virtual world, Director Wells, acts as students’ personal guide, helping them to make sense of each piece of historical evidence and investigate further.

TimeSnap is a new Mission US product that we are currently expanding into a set of four VR experiences (for any mobile VR platform) along with accompanying lesson plans. The full product will include a Teacher Dashboard that tracks student progress through an experience and records key choices made by all the students that can be used to foster classroom discussions.  

Quick Take

EFS Role / 

Game Design

Content Development

Software Engineering

Partners /

WNET New York Public Media

American Social History Project


Evaluation Partner /

Education Development Center (Center for Children & Technology)

Years / 


Funding / 

U.S. Department of Education (Institute of Education Sciences)

An introduction to TimeSnap and its use in the classroom.

In October of 2017, we did two classroom tests (with 9th and 11th graders) that used the technology embedded into their usual DBQ (document-based question) lesson around the Boston Massacre. All of the students responded very positively to the experience. Students specifically praised TimeSnap for creating a personal, immersive space that was free of distraction and let them explore at their own pace. The results also indicate that students using VR recall more contextual facts than control students who completed the lesson without VR.

The current prototype is available for free on the Google Play store for use on Android smartphones using the Google Daydream VR headset.

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