Halloween Fun

Besides ARTHUR

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… there’s the usual sugary and costumey mayhem here.






New Top Builder!

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The votes are in for our latest Top Builder challenge: benjakov’s DIY instrument is the tops! He used cardboard, rubber bands, a shoe box, pencils, and a paper towel tube to make a guitar. This player’s design earned the most community votes and Top Builder status on the Design Squad Global website.


Rare! Novel Classroom Activities

WGBH’s Digital Kids team,  took an innovative direction to bring the new WGBH TV series Rare: Creatures of the Photo Ark into classrooms.

Working closely with external science advisor Dr. Chris Whitbeck, the team devised a classroom activity focused on animal adaptations with a technique based on the work of Eleanor Duckworth. Dr. Duckworth’s approach, developed at the Harvard Graduate School of Education is based on Piaget’s writing. The underlying premise is that students will engage more with the content if they are allowed to discover it for themselves, to ask questions, and to not simply be provided factual information by their teacher.

So for this project we worked closely with longtime WGBH science adviser, Dr. Whitbeck who uses this technique at the CT Douglas Elementary School in Acton MA where he is principal.

The WGBH production team created prototypes of what was to become our Safari Slideshow and observed a full classroom session with fifth graders led by one of his teachers, Meghan Giannetto. Because the success of this technique relies on teachers being willing and able to facilitate kids’ asking questions or offering hypotheses while holding back from proffering their own answers, much of our work in refining this product has been in guiding and choreographing the teachers. We observed Meghan’s techniques and built them into the structure of our student-facing content as well as into the support materials provided to teachers.

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We created the Safari Slideshow and a complementary digital deck of Creature Cards in HTML5 to make this content fully usable across typical classroom technology, desktop, Chromebook, tablet and interactive whiteboard or simple projector. The Creature Cards are designed to allow students to learn more about their favorite animals, discover more about their adaptations and even take turns around the classroom to share what they have learned. This is especially important because all of the animals featured are endangered and learning about them is the first step to advocating for their survival.

The team also created companion worksheets along with teacher guides and even a close captioned How To video featuring Meghan Giannetto explaining to other teachers just how easy and engaging this activity can be. Teachers can find all these resources at PBS LearningMedia.

The digital team for this dynamic project is Bill, Lizzy, Dan, Gentry, Jeff, Alan, Li and Greg.

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The latest ARTHUR game, D.W.’s Island Bugball, is now live!

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You can find it on the ARTHUR web site, and in the PBS Kids games app as the featured game.

 D.W.’s Island Bugball is a minigolf-style game celebrating D.W.’s birthday! In PLAY mode, players can enjoy the nine-hole bugball course, with the ability to adjust the difficulty level. In MAKE mode, players can create their own hole, customizing it however they want. Full of variability, and fun and challenging gameplay, D.W’s Island Bugball gives players the chance to experiment and test levels — and even offer challenges to their friends and family!

 Mad “Monster Island” props go out to Gentry (Senior Producer), Jeff (designer), Jolin (developer), and Mollie (production coordinator) for all their skill and creativity in bringing this game to life. Also, a big thanks to Tara (designer) and Alan for their support and guidance; and to Carol, Nicole, Deb and Tolon for providing great feedback along the way.

So, head on over to D.W.’s Island Bugball, and play a few rounds! 🙂

Feed the Fidgits: Our Latest Game

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This week the Design Squad team launched our newest game: Feed the Fidgits! at PBS KIDS and in the PBS KIDS Games app.

Players design and manage an aquaponics farm to grow food for our Fidgit characters.

Congratulations to the creative and hard-working team led by Melissa Carlson who made this happen: on development: Colin Egge with support from Kal Gieber; Stefan Mallette and Tara Taylor on design; Bill Shribman, Louise Flannery, and Lizzy Walbridge for production support; and our project leader, Marisa Wolsky.