1. Joan Freese
  2. Executive Producer, Ready To Learn
  3. Hero Elementary
  4. Twin Cities PBS
  1. Beth Daniels
  2. STEM Content and Education Manager
  3. Hero Elementary
  4. Twin Cities PBS
  1. Momo Hayakawa
  2. Education Research and Analytics Associate
  3. Hero Elementary
  4. Twin Cities PBS
  1. Emily Jensen
  2. Education Outreach Manager
  3. Hero Elementary
  4. Twin Cities PBS
  1. Carol-Lynn Parente
  2. Executive Producer, Hero Elementary Television
  3. Hero Elementary
  4. Twin Cities PBS
  1. Dennis Ramirez
  2. Digital Program Manager
  3. Hero Elementary
  4. Twin Cities PBS
Presenters’
Choice
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Joan Freese

    Joan Freese

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 07:44 a.m.

    Welcome to Hero Elementary! Thanks for stopping by to learn about our project. Our interdisciplinary team will be online this week to discuss all aspects of our work. We welcome your comments, questions, and feedback.

  • Icon for: Isabelle Herde

    Isabelle Herde

    Researcher
    May 13, 2019 | 12:52 p.m.

    What a fun way to game-ify science learning! I work out at Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center and while we do not have such a whirlwind animated science game we also emphasize storytelling as a method to communicate science. 

  • Icon for: Joan Freese

    Joan Freese

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 01:56 p.m.

    Thanks, Isabelle! It's really interesting and unique that you use narrative in the environmental education space. I'm interested to know more! 

  • Icon for: Isabelle Herde

    Isabelle Herde

    Researcher
    May 13, 2019 | 02:04 p.m.

    Hi Joan. We also submitted a video project about it called Science Strikes Back! https://stemforall2019.videohall.com/presentations/1516

    We use technology to encourage kids to collect data in their environment and craft stories about it. I have a great one where a student uses the data to predict which Pokemon would appear! You can read some of the stories and learn more about what we do here: https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/uphamwoods/programs/dots-at-upham-woods/

  • Icon for: Joan Freese

    Joan Freese

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 07:29 a.m.

    Thanks, Isabelle. I'll check it out!

  • Icon for: Sally Crissman

    Sally Crissman

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 03:31 p.m.

    I will be eager to see the products as they become available. In know the suite of products (video, games, readers, do at home activities) are popular with the families, care givers and teachers who interact with K-2 kids. The bursting with energy kids -superheroes - make me think of some of the kids this age I know, there are also the dreamers and watchers. Have you probed the degree to which your star characters appeal to different kinds of kids?

    Do any of your research questions address how engagement or science learning are related to the pace of the video animations? While I used to be impatient watching Mr. Rogers' slow and gentle episodes, I also wonder about ones that crackle with electricity! As you plan, do you separate engagement, motivation to stick with an episode, and learning outcomes?

    Sally

  • Icon for: Momo Hayakawa

    Momo Hayakawa

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 05:47 p.m.

    Hello Sally!  I'm the TPT researcher on this project and am excited to share with you that we have conducted numerous rounds of characters appeals testing with diverse children (particularly targeting our RTL demographic- low-income, LatinX communities, English Language Learners, and children with special needs) in Minnesota and California. We've been very intentional about the characters' names, clothes, and interests. In addition to quotes such as "It looks like me," kids said, "He has puffy hair like me!" and "“She is strong and I help my dad carry stuff.”  This research was presented at the Meaningful Play conference and our presentation abstract can be found here in a couple of weeks:

    http://meaningfulplay.msu.edu/proceedings2018/

    We've found that kids are absolutely paying attention to the extent to which a character is relatable.

     As for the pace, we test our stories at storybook, animatic, and full animation phases in front of K-2nd grader children, and are able to identify whether or not the pace is developmentally appropriate (e.g. if children don't understand what they just saw and are confused). Because we do so much research - especially early on- we're able to catch when the pace is not appropriate. Although our intro music is fast-paced and exciting, the show itself is a slower paced, and the dialogue is paced appropriately for K-2nd graders.

     

  • Icon for: Tasha Weinstein

    Tasha Weinstein

    Informal Educator
    May 14, 2019 | 08:37 a.m.

    Hi PBS Friends!

    Hero Elementary is adorable and we are excited to bring it to our kiddos and classrooms someday soon! Can you please share how this content is going to be used with families? It seems like a perfect program with hands-on that multi-generational groups could have a lot of fun with. Thank you!

  • Icon for: Beth Daniels

    Beth Daniels

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 12:52 p.m.

    Thanks, Tasha. We agree -- there are great opportunities for multi-generational play and learning with Hero Elementary! We are in the process of developing our family outreach plans. The centerpiece will be the app that we are developing for families to play together. It incorporates the "Superpowers of Science" and supports family discourse around science topics and processes in a fun, interactive game. Plus it offers users the opportunity to generate their own content. We are envisioning family science events in the community -- possibly sponsored by local public television stations, libraries, community centers, schools, afterschool programs, etc. These events could include Hero Elementary episodes, science books, Hero Elementary hands-on activities, and the family science app. Details to come, so stay tuned! Of course, content will be available online at all times -- games, shows, songs, and all kinds of science-focused play and learning. We will be researching ways for families to use the content. Let us know if you have some ideas we should consider.

  • Icon for: DeLene Hoffner

    DeLene Hoffner

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 01:47 p.m.

    The "HOME" connection is super exciting since that is where children first see their role models.  I'm so happy to hear that you have put a home connection in motion.  I also love the community opportunities this will create.  Wonderful ideas and great potential.  Thanks!

  • Icon for: Beth Daniels

    Beth Daniels

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 01:53 p.m.

    Thank you, DeLene! We feel it's important to connect with families and communities, especially when working with younger children. We also emphasize ways for children to connect science practices and content to the places where they live.

  • Icon for: Acacia McKenna

    Acacia McKenna

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 10:38 a.m.


    These products are very engaging and interesting! As mentioned in the description and video, thhe expansive program aims for a broad reach of diverse communities. Are there plans to expand characters to represent the target demographics? Do any of the research questions address frequency of the interventions/timing of the various learning tools (e.g. students that engage in TV show only learning impact versus children that engage in the TV show and online learning platforms, etc.)? I am curious to learn more about the development of educator assets as well!


    -Acacia McKenna


  • Icon for: Beth Daniels

    Beth Daniels

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 11:02 a.m.

    Hi Acacia and thanks for your question! We have worked with Dr. Roni Ellington and Dr. Alicia Santiago to create a framework that helps us develop characters, environments, and content that speaks authentically to our target audiences. We have a fairly small "main cast" of characters; in that group we have an African-American character, two LatinX characters, a character who has autism, a bi-racial Asian American character and a Caucasian character. As we develop ancillary characters, we are developing characters representing a broad range of races and ethnicities, a variety of jobs (for adults), etc.

    For educators, we are developing a number of support materials to help them use the core products with the children they serve. For example:

    • To support our Super Science Notebook -- a digital tool for young scientists -- we have an introductory activity plan, a general routine that supports pre-writing activities, and a series of "Notebook Talks" that provide detail for helping young children use graphic organizers.
    • Each video has a Coviewing Guide to help educators prompt meaningful discussion about the science in the story.
    • Our hands-on activities come with detailed Activity Plans that include guides for the activities as well as for science discourse on a K-2 level.

    I will leave the research question to some of my co-presenters!

  • Icon for: Momo Hayakawa

    Momo Hayakawa

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 10:08 a.m.

    Hi Acacia! Great question! I'm really excited to share that we are meticulously taking documenting through our telemetry and educators, the type, quantity, and duration, each child participates in during their Hero Elementary experience. Our external evaluation partner, WestEd, is collecting data on a QED designed pilot in an afterschool setting (and soon in summer schools). We'll be able to examine the data and see what combination of activities (E.g. tv show + hands on activity + digital games vs.  tv show and digital games, etc.) impact children's science gains the most. Stay tuned!

  • Icon for: DeLene Hoffner

    DeLene Hoffner

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 01:51 p.m.

    Fantastic! Your video clip really shares a wonderful overview of all your program entails. With Hero Elementary  focusing on improving school readiness in science and literacy in grades K-2, what have you discovered children like more... the stories, the computer games, or the hand-on science?  

  • Icon for: Beth Daniels

    Beth Daniels

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 02:00 p.m.

    Wow, tough question! We are out in the field a lot, testing all these pieces with children in our target audiences. I'd say that children like each aspect differently. They are entranced with the stories, and they talk enthusiastically about Superpowers of Science and how our characters use science to solve problems. They get engrossed in the digital games and will return to them again and again. And they get so focused and happily active when they do hands-on science; they have lots to say about what they discover. They also enjoy working in the Science Power Notebook, our digital notebook tool. They love being able to write, draw, upload photos, use stickers, and record their voices. Using the notebook to express their scientific ideas can be challenging at this age, but we are confident that -- as children get more familiar with the process -- they will grow in this area! When given "choice time," we have thus far found children gravitating primarily to the digital games and the Science Power Notebook. But these findings are very preliminary.

  • Icon for: Dennis Ramirez

    Dennis Ramirez

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 11:43 a.m.

    Hi DeLene!

    Like Beth mentioned above we've found that most of our activities have been well received by the target audience (Yay user testing). There is a bias towards games and the science notebook, but I think those interventions have a lot of things going for them that makes them easier to implement and engage with. For example, the science notebook and the games are all self contained experiences where the other activities require some facilitator support or physical materials. Being self contained also allows those activities to be replayed several times. The games and the Notebook are also self paced with some of the games allowing for multiple levels of completion/difficulty. The game mechanics are also tied very closely to the content which sets up a mini sandbox that players can engage with in many different ways (the students love to try to solve different levels puzzles in various ways). That said, if the hands on activities, like dissecting a flower or melting chocolate, were a bit easier to set up and redo by individual students I have no doubt those would also be replayed several times.

  • Icon for: Terri Norton

    Terri Norton

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 14, 2019 | 05:33 p.m.

    This is Awesome! Are there any plans to create a middle school version of this program? I would be interested in learning more about the planned outreach component.

  • Icon for: Beth Daniels

    Beth Daniels

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 11:18 p.m.

    Terri, people have asked me, "Will the hero characters ever get older?" I have certainly wondered about this possibility...

  • Icon for: Joan Freese

    Joan Freese

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 09:27 a.m.

    Hi, Terri--

    Our outreach program is national and uses a train the trainer model. We look to partner with child-serving organizations that have: a commitment to equity and diversity, a track record of providing quality enrichment focused programming, a strong family program, and the ability to implement the Hero Elementary collection of resources to fidelity. Our partners work with children in after school and summer school (aka informal) settings, but our program would also work for formal K-2 classrooms.

    Our professional development training includes both an NGSS overview, since our curriculum is based on the new standards, and details about doing tech integrated work. This is new for some of our partners and others are already using technology in their programs. Our pilot cohort trained in February and will be implementing this summer. WestEd is evaluating the implementation and we plan to integrate changes quickly, so new partners can benefit from our learnings. 

    Thanks for your interest in Hero Elementary. Middle school sounds daunting right now--but the super hero genre is very flexible in terms of story telling, so you never know! : )

  • Icon for: Emily Jensen

    Emily Jensen

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 10:47 a.m.

    Hi Terri,

    Great question. Some of our current partners focus primarily on elementary aged children, but we do have partners that work with Kindergarten students all the way through high school, so it would be interesting to conceptualize a program that runs from elementary through middle school. Our first cohort will start implementing in June and will be using the program in both contained and mixed classes of 5 to 8 year olds. Though we do have one partner that only works with students with disabilities, and they will be using the program with older students as their learning level is at the K-2 level. Perhaps in future seasons we will have a middle school version- such an important age group!

     

  • May 16, 2019 | 09:18 a.m.

    What a great resource for young kids! Will this be subscription based? Will it be available to families and schools? Are you planning to provide alignment with most commonly used curricula?

  • Icon for: Emily Jensen

    Emily Jensen

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 10:37 a.m.

    Thank you Irina! The program is currently offered for free to Partners that are in the out-of-school space, which does include schools that have after school programming. As for families, our Outreach Program engages families and we are also developing a family science app, that families can use at home. All of our content is aligned with the NGSS and ELA standards to complement what the children are learning in the formal school setting.

  • Icon for: Beth Daniels

    Beth Daniels

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 11:18 a.m.

    Building on what Emily said, Hero Elementary aligns with both the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts (CCSS-ELA). Partner programs will begin using Hero Elementary content this summer. Hero Elementary will be available on television, starting in 2020. Hero Elementary games will be available online, as will selected activity plans. We will have two apps that will run on iOS and Android -- the Science Power Notebook and our family science app. 

  • Icon for: DeLene Hoffner

    DeLene Hoffner

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2019 | 11:40 p.m.

    For those of you involved in the creation of HERO Elementary, what is the greatest"AH-Ha" you discovered while creating this program?

  • Icon for: Joan Freese

    Joan Freese

    Lead Presenter
    May 20, 2019 | 05:54 p.m.

    Hi, DeLene--

    I'm a bit late to the party, but I wanted to answer your intriguing question! 

    Our program aims to reach K-2 students with special emphasis on Latino communities, English Language Learners, youth with disabilities, and children from low-income households. We had the good fortune of learning about a great publication, which one of our Advisors, Dr. Okhee Lee from NYU, edited with Emily Miller and Rita Januszyk. It's called NGSS For All Students and it was published by NSTA Press. The editors for this publication looked at the existing research about equity strategies for STEM inclusion. They have chapters covering a variety of audiences. We did a crosswalk of the chapters that address our target audiences and came up with strategies for our project: 

    1. Connect science to children’s “sense of place”—the physical, historical and socio-cultural aspects of their local community.
    2. Empower children to be doers of science by valuing the knowledge and experiences from their families and communities.
    3. Engage children’s curiosity through real-world and hands-on experiences.
    4. Use multimodal experiences and multiple representations to engage all children.
    5. Facilitate discussion of ideas and reflection about science experiences.
    6. Support ongoing learning by connecting home, community, and the learning program.

    We specifically aimed to use no edu jargon in this list, since many of the child-serving organizations employ youth workers who do not necessarily have formal education backgrounds. We call this list: Hero Elementary: Proven Strategies for Engaging Young Learners in Science. It's been really helpful for us in focussing our efforts and helping our partners do the same. 

    That's my "ah-ha" moment. For us practitioners, it's so useful to build on existing, well-vetted work. I would recommend NGSS For All Students. It's a great resource!

     

  • Icon for: Carol-Lynn Parente

    Carol-Lynn Parente

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 09:50 a.m.

    I'm am smiling DeLene, because one of the early titles of the show was the Ah-ha Academy, but we couldn't clear the title.  I think there were many "Ah-has" during the creative development of the project.  The biggest clash being the Superhero genre paired with a Science curriculum.  So much of the Superhero worlds are filled with pseudoscience or things outright counter to scientific fact.   Or first Ah-ha was realizing that what scientists and superheroes have in common is the desire to save the day or solve a problem.

    But I think the biggest realization came during formative testing when we realized how deep the knowledge and interest was among even very young children when it came to all things Superhero.  At first I was thrilled to have such an engaging hook as Superheroes to teach Science.  But it became apparent very quickly during storybook testing, that once you introduce the concept of Superheroes, the kids' imaginations take over and you lose them.  My Ah-ha was that if we wanted the Science to break through, we were gong to have to find a way to embed it solidly in the lore of our Superhero world.

    That led to the birth of the "Superpowers of Science", an additional arsenal of powers our young heroes-to-be could use to help them solve problems and save the day.  The SOS, as we like to call them, are the Science and Engineering Practices mapped to the NGSS.

    Thanks so much for that question!

     

     

  • Icon for: Beth Daniels

    Beth Daniels

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 10:22 a.m.

    Carol-Lynn, you beat me to it! I was going to write that the Superpowers of Science have been the biggest "Ah-ha" for me, as an educator. From the time you first talked to me about the idea, these superpowers have grown in importance. We see the Superpowers of Science as the superpowers that everyone has and that anyone can use to make sense of the world, solve a problem, and save the day. We feature the Superpowers of Science in TV, in our hands-on activities, in songs (yes--songs!), and in games. As Letitia Wright, who played super-scientist Shuri in Black Panther, said, "I hope it can spark someone to say, ‘I’m not a superhero, but I can be a scientist or build the next spaceship, like Shuri.’"

  • Icon for: Jessica Andrews

    Jessica Andrews

    Project Director
    May 20, 2019 | 12:28 p.m.

    Great video - can't wait to see the final project. I'm also interested in the findings from the pilot study this summer. Thanks for sharing!

  • Icon for: Beth Daniels

    Beth Daniels

    Co-Presenter
    May 20, 2019 | 04:37 p.m.

    Hi Jessica, thanks for stopping by and for your comment! We have learned a lot from our formative testing and are eager to see what insights we can glean from this summer's pilot study. 

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.