South East Wales

Merthyr Tydfil's iron heritage told in 3D app

The history of Merthyr Tydfil's role in the industrial revolution is being told to children in a game on mobiles and tablets.

The free mobile app follows the adventures of a 13-year-old boy travelling to the Victorian iron town.

The 3D graphics in the app Iron also allow the player to walk around a 19th Century farm.

The developer believes it will fill a gap in local history knowledge.

"I was already very aware of Merthyr's past from my school days but I can't remember my own children saying they had learnt much about the town at school," said Gareth Cavanagh.

"It was this realisation that you couldn't rely on the curriculum to bring the past of Merthyr to life that got me thinking about a game as a mode of learning through a fun activity."

Mr Cavanagh is a lecturer in games design and owner of Irontown Interactive and the app has been developed with the Centre of Excellence in Mobile Applications and Services (Cemas), which is based at the University of South Wales.

The story follows Lewys, 13, on his journey to Merthyr
Lewys walks from rural mid Wales to industrial south Wales

'Huge interest'

The game, follows the adventures of Lewys, a teenager following in the footsteps of his absent father from rural mid Wales to Merthyr, at the centre of the iron industry.

"I believe that rather than shun the use of iPads we need to fully embrace their power for good as educational tools, accessible to many people across the world," he said.

"Kids are introduced to technology from birth. There's no escaping it and they take to it like a duck to water."

Prof Khalid Al-Begain, director of Cemas, said classrooms needed to move away from whiteboards to embrace the new technologies.

He points to an app being developed which teaches children healthy eating from growing seeds to cooking; another Rwdlan is helping teach Welsh through stories and colouring in.

Prof Al-Begain said: "There are some for teaching English and I know of one which helps with spelling - I've experience of this with my own son using it and he improved two levels in two months.

"Games are what children use and love. If you're just using the technology that has been around for more than 50 years you will lose them.

"Teachers have been showing a huge interest and we know mobile technology can have a fantastic impact on learning."

The app will be officially launched at Redhouse in Merthyr Tydfil.

The characters in Victorian Merthyr - which was a major iron-producing town at the time

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