Target Audience: Preschoolers, parents/caregivers, librarians and library workers
Subjects/Skills: Computational thinking and problem solving
Work It Out @ Your Library builds on Work It out Wombats!, the new animated PBS Kids series for preschoolers that was described by Common Sense Media as “a perfect combination of learning, high energy characters, and fun music [that] takes the important subject of computation thinking and makes it understandable for young learners.” The show features Malik, Zadie, and Zeke, three energetic wombat siblings who live with their grandmother in the fantastical “Treeborhood.” Through their many adventures, the Wombats solve problems, accomplish tasks, and express their creative talents—all while using the computational thinking skills that are at the core of computer science.
Work It Out @ Your Library is a multimedia initiative for families with preschoolers that takes place both in the library and in families’ homes. Libraries guide families during the library sessions, screening Wombats! episodes and songs and leading them in fun, hands-on activities designed to explore computational thinking. The Wombats! app they’ll use to do activities at home has a special feature: it weaves together photos families take into a slideshow, complete with music and Wombats! graphics.
The library program has a flexible format, and is divided into four two-week units, allowing libraries to do just one, several, or all four units. Each unit is devoted to one computational thinking skill: Create, Test, Improve! (the design process), Step It Out! (sequencing), Find What’s Important (abstraction and representation), and Break It Down! (problem decomposition). Libraries are provided with a Library Guide, videos, and a robust set of presentation resources.
With a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation, GBH Education and GBH Children’s Programming, in collaboration with research partners EDC, will iteratively produce the Wombats! App and test the library program with rural libraries in Mississippi and Arkansas. Partnering with the National Librarians Association, the project will also explore the role that librarians can play as virtual CT coaches for families with young children in rural communities.
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