St. Paul, Minn. (September 29, 2020) – Twin Cities PBS (TPT) has received funding from the U.S. Department of Education to produce “Mashopolis: Leveraging Today’s Educational Media to Build Tomorrow’s Workforce.” The project focuses on helping children, ages 5-8, develop critical executive functioning (EF) skills that support learning and lay the groundwork for future success. The project includes 40 half-hour animated television episodes, delivered in English and Spanish, along with digital resources like interactive games and apps with embedded assessments and analytics, and a children’s website to explore and expand their visions of their future selves. Along with this, resources will be provided to informal educators across the nation to integrate EF activities, analog games and other educational activities into existing programming that will help families continue to learn and grow together. TPT’s goal is to premiere “Mashopolis” on U.S. public television stations in 2023.
“The proposal for this project was published by the U.S. Department of Education at the outbreak of COVID-19,” said Momo Hayakawa, the project director for Mashopolis. “Our project team at TPT wanted to propose a transmedia, research and engagement plan that considered factors ensuring all young children, especially children from disadvantaged communities, have access to the educational tools and resources of “Mashopolis” to help them prepare not just for school readiness, but also lifelong learning.”
The setting of “Mashopolis” is an immersive game city allowing kids to build their own virtual play space. Each episode will include live-action “Mashopolis” kids, a diverse group of three, entering into the 2D animated world of their favorite simulated city for a variety of adventures. The game-like challenges the characters experience in “Mashopolis” require them to tap into—and strengthen—their EF skills. Each episode will include two animated stories that bring “Mashopolis” research-based curriculum to life, addressing specific goals around building EF and illuminating future career pathways. Each episode of the imaginative digital world of “Mashopolis” ends with the characters jumping out of the digital world, signaling an end to screen time to engage in outdoor play.
Research shows future success, specifically career success, often lies in an individual’s EF skills – working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control. The goal of “Mashopolis’” is to provide all children, and specifically those underserved, low-income and/or experiencing housing insecurity, with EF skills and inspire future opportunities, along with intergenerational and lifelong learning.
“For nearly four decades, TPT has been a national leader in producing STEM content for children. Education continues to be a strategic pillar of TPT, and the generous grants and gifts from our donors and members have allowed us to be an innovator in children’s educational programming,” said Sylvia Strobel, President and CEO of TPT. “‘Mashopolis is the culmination of the many years of STEM work and the expertise our team obtained through our current Ready to Learn project, ‘Hero Elementary.’ We are committed to using creative thinking, 21st century skills, and collaborative partnerships with experts across the country – all to make a difference in children’s lives.”
© Twin Cities Public Television - 2020. All rights reserved.