Emmy Award-winning PBS KIDS GO! series, The Electric Company, will re-launch its third season May 2 with an all new transmedia story, The Adventures of The Electric Company on Prankster Planet. Airing in a new segment at the end of the TV series and a new area of the website, this transmedia story engages and immerses participants in an experience through multiple forms of media, each element making a unique contribution to the story. Produced by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, The Electric Company uses this formula to transport viewers from the television show to the website and back again, putting kids in the middle of the adventure, side-by-side with The Electric Company.
The entire transmedia experience includes 12 new two-minute animated segments, 12 multi-level online quests, 60 mini-games, an avatar creator, a rewards system to encourage repeat play and a magazine. Coming early summer, there will also be a progress tracker online for parents and teachers to follow kids learning online.
Appearing at the end of each of the episodes in season three, Prankster Planet stars Electric Company members Jessica and Marcus as comic book heroes in a 12-part animated adventure. Their mission? Get to Prankster Planet ASAP and stop the pranksters from stealing all the words from earth!
Jessica and Marcus discover the pranksters are using Manny’s latest gadget — the Wordsuckeruppernator — to suck up all the words on earth, giving them total word domination. Upon arrival, they learn that the only way to turn off the gadget is to find the 13 buttons that Manny has hidden all over the planet. As they get close to each button, the pranksters try to prevent them from reaching their goal. The heroes need help! They turn to the viewer and shout “Hey You GUUUUUYYS!” Then, the narrator steps in asking the kids to go online and help!
“Bringing the characters into an action adventure story and gaming world that invites kids to participate is a natural progression of The Electric Company,” says Karen Fowler, Executive Producer and Vice President. “Watching children quickly take to this new section proves that we need to keep challenging ourselves to push the boundaries of media and education to serve the needs of kids in a way that reflects the world they live in.”
Each animated episode ends in a cliffhanger — offering a direct hand-off from story to game. This seamless transition is one of the signature elements that define the transmedia invention.
Online, the viewer now enters the story in the scene where the animation ended. The player boards a virtual spaceship, creates an avatar and heads to Prankster Planet! There are 12 levels of interactive game play, each level matching each of the animations. The playful, interactive games build math literacy by reinforcing and testing kids’ knowledge of word meanings like ‘graph,’ ‘measure,’ ‘scale’ and ‘prove;’ and math concepts like coin value, telling time and skip counting. The player must complete all the levels to triumph over the pranksters and save the Earth’s words. When all 12 missions are complete, the player becomes an official member of The Electric Company!
“Creating the online universe of Prankster Planet allowed us the opportunity to give kids an incredibly immersive experience – empowering them to become active participants,” adds Erica Branch-Ridley, Supervising Producer of online for The Electric Company. “The depth, however, does not stop there. Children are asked to play a role in this world that is integrally connected with the math literacy curriculum of these episodes.”
The Lost Guide to Prankster Planet magazine completes the learning experience by extending the math concepts and vocabulary featured online and in the animated TV segments – offering yet another resource to parents, kids and teachers. The magazine, distributed to PBS and other Electric Company partners, will contain secret Prankster Planet information that the reader can use to collect hidden words and save the world from becoming wordless!
The Adventures of The Electric Company on Prankster Planet will air at the end of each of The Electric Company broadcast episodes everyday starting May 2. The online adventure will go live that same day at PBSKIDSGO.org/electriccompany.
The Electric Company and “Prankster Planet” are part of Ready To Learn, a joint initiative of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS, and funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Ready To Learn is a national initiative focused on using public media content to improve math and literacy skills of children ages two to eight, especially those from low-income families.