Scott Witzke is WTIU’s Director of Marketing and Internal Affairs. In this interview, he provides an inside look at his experience with the PBS KIDS GO! competition and gives advice to future competitors.
Indiana University’s WTIU has produced The Friday Zone for over 13 years. This award winning program offers PBS KIDS audiences videos and interactive games that enable them to learn about different things, from introducing them to different types of music to learning green-living tips.
In 2011, WTIU created The Weather Zone. Says WTIU’s Scott Witzke: “We felt that The Weather Zone was a natural connection. We just upgraded our web site and this game is the perfect conversation piece in our community.”
The Weather Zone teaches children ages 6 to 10 the importance of determining weather conditions and provides users a chance to discover and play with local weather. Children are educated on the differences between humidity, temperature, and pressure. This module encourages children, parents, and teachers to interact to learn more about the science behind weather.
All participating stations in the PBS KIDS GO! grant competition were given the opportunity to work with grant mentees, previous winners of the grant. WTIU worked with WFYI of Indianapolis. Witzke describes WFYI as “wonderful and a pleasure to work with.” A major part of the completion was creating a module that could be easily adapted by other PBS stations. According to Witzke, customizing the game is simple. “All [stations] have to do is upload their logo. The game asks for individuals to enter a zip code so at localizes effortlessly.” So far, fellow station KACV in Amarillo, Texas has customized the Weather Zone module for their site.
KACV's Local Weather Zone
Witzke adds that the most enjoyable part of the creative process was coming up with the various graphics included in the Weather Zone. The most difficult part was making the game understandable for the station’s targeted audience.“The most difficult thing was taking a subject as complicated as weather and breaking it down into terms that a 6-10 year old would understand. There's a big difference in knowledge between a 6 and a 10 year old.”
When asked what advice he would give other PBS stations who wish to improve their PBS KIDS presence, Witzke replied “Go out on limb sometimes. You might be excited by what you see.”
The Weather Zone code and implementation instructions can be found on Station Remote Control (station login required). Also included with module code and instructions is a toolkit for additional Weather Zone promotion and teaching guides.
If you have any questions for Scott or WTIU, please feel free to leave a comment below.