As people around the world marked Earth Day on Tuesday, PBS Kids took the opportunity to launch a new original online property entitled Plum Landing, designed to teach six- to nine-year-olds more about the planet using a character from outer space.
The series engages the audience across a variety of platforms, using animated and live-action videos, hands-on activities, web games and an interactive mobile app, Plum’s Photo Hunt, available exclusively on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
The narrative of the story is provided by 30 animated videos on the Plum Landing website. The shorts follow video game designer Plum as he hijacks a spaceship on his desolate native Planet Blorb and travels to Earth, where he makes friends with five eager human kids who accompany him on a series of missions (e.g. “find a lake in a desert!”) that lead him to explore four ecosystems — the Australian desert, the mangroves of Belize, the Canadian Rockies and the jungles of Borneo.
The cross-platform accessible website also includes nine games of exploration, creativity and scientific discovery, and about 100 galleries of missions where children can create pictures and take photographs to send to Plum for possible publication.
All Plum Landing resources, including the Plum’s Photo Hunt app and standards-based tools for educators, are offered for free. To build awareness of the program, four of its animated videos are appearing as on-air shorts between episodes of Arthur this week on PBS Kids.
Plum Landing is produced by the Boston PBS station WGBH, which makes more than two-thirds of the public television broadcaster’s nationally-distributed shows, including Nova, Frontline, Masterpiece, American Experience, The Victory Garden and This Old House.
Major funding for Plum Landing was provided by the National Science Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and The Kendeda Fund. Additional funding is provided by the Northern Research Station, Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.