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PBS KIDS GO! 2011 Grant Winner - GeoJourney, WFSU

by Joy Loving, Station Products and Innovation

Welcome back to our series on PBS KIDS GO! Grant recipients. This week, we recognize WFSU’s GeoJourney.

This past November, WFSU hosted a community event called GeoJourney for Families. You can see Trisha Moynihan, WFSU's Director of Internet Services, hitting the beat as community reporter in a promotional video of the event  here

GeoJourney was created with the idea of geocaching in mind. Geocaching refers to the scavenger hunt-style game, which is played outside, that utilizes a GPS to find hidden objects. In this virtual version of the game, children assist the character of Scurry the Squirrel by finding his acorns, which are hidden all-over the United States. GeoJourney incorporates the use of maps and history to teach children ages 8 -12 basic geography.

WFSU’s Trisha Moynihan walked us through the creation of GeoJourney and discusses the benefits of using the PBS KIDS GO! modules located in Station Remote Control. Continue reading to learn about Trisha’s favorite part of the experience.

What was the motivation behind the creation of GeoJourney?
We were looking for something based in geography. We were trying to create an idea around geography, because we noticed that there weren’t many games focused on that idea.

What impact do you hope GeoJourney will have on the PBS Kids audience?
We hope to fill a gap with older kids in the PBS audience, as well as making it a fun geography experience for anyone who wishes to play GeoJourney.

You were given the opportunity to work with past GO! grant recipients/mentors during this process. What was that like?
Well, we have actually won the grant 3 years in a row now. Each year, working with different people, and some of the same people, it’s been good to do that. We’ve evolved from never having done it before to changing our methods, and developing the game. Working with all of the grant winners was an eye-opening experience. This was an accomplishment because we are far away from each other, so we basically collaborated over the phone and by email, and developed this game.

This competition required you to come up with a module that could be adapted by various PBS stations. How can stations customize this module for their site?
You just grab the code located in Station Remote Control and embed it in your website. You don’t have to link to a WFSU server. You can promote the game anywhere on your site in real time. As far as the code that you embed, you can specify your station call letters and a default zip code to localize users. This information is used to update information within the application to provide users with geographical information local to the user.  It also helps keep track of stats on a station-by-station basis.

What was the most enjoyable part of creating your module? What was the most difficult part?
Having finished is probably the most enjoyable part, but I’m glad we had the opportunity to do this again. The most difficult part was that it seems that every year we try to challenge ourselves further, as far as improving features. The difficulty of upping programming for the game increases every year and it’s a little stressful to meet self-imposed deadlines.

Do you have any advice for stations working to improve their online PBS KIDS presence?
PBS offers a lot of online modules. There are three years of games out now. Even if you want to offer more games, and more games that are more customizable, you can go into Station Remote Control, grab the code and apply them to your site. If you don’t have anything provided by your station geared toward kids, it will be hard for you to relate to that audience.

If you have any questions or comments for Trisha Moynihan or the WFSU team, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

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