WHO-HD Channel 13 takes pride in its educational and informational programs for children. We keep a detailed file of our children’s programming in our public inspection file, available during business hours, at our studios:

WHO-HD Channel 13
1801 Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50309

Monday – Friday
8:00 AM to 5:00 PM


The More You Know Learning Series in Collaboration with NBC News has created a free eBook for Parents, Teachers, & Kids

Growing Up Online

This free, downloadable Internet safety eBook,Growing Up Online, is a unique learning tool that provides parents and teachers with important information to help initiate conversation with children about online safety. With half of all kids under the age of eight using Internet connected devices, and one in three children cyber-bullied, it is more critical than ever to educate kids on using technology safely. Growing Up Online is a media-rich eBook that provides easy-to-use content on navigating the digital world in an engaging way. It includes safety tips, discussion questions and key takeaways, as well as entertaining video comic books for kids focused on real situations that may arise when they go online. Growing Up Online is available as a free download for a variety of tablet devices in both English and Spanish.

See WHO-HD’s Children’s Programming Reports at the FCC HERE.

Here are upcoming changes to WHO-HD’s regularly scheduled children’s programming lineup:

Program Regularly Scheduled Rescheduled Time
Poppy Cat Saturday 2/21  12:00 PM Sunday 3/29  11:00 AM
Noodle and Doodle Saturday 2/21  12:30 PM Sunday 3/29  11:30 AM
Poppy Cat Saturday 2/28  12:00 PM Sunday 3/29  12:00 PM
Noodle and Doodle Saturday 2/28  12:30 PM Sunday 3/29  12:30 PM
Poppy Cat Saturday 3/7  12:00 PM Sunday 3/29  1:00 PM
Noodle and Doodle Saturday 3/7  12:30 PM Sunday 3/29  1:30 PM
Earth to Luna! Saturday 4/4  11:30 AM Saturday 4/4  7:30 AM
Poppy Cat Saturday 4/4  12:00 PM Sunday 4/12  12:00 PM
Tree Fu Tom Saturday 4/4  12:30 PM Sunday 4/12  12:30 PM
Earth to Luna! Saturday 4/11  11:30 AM Saturday 4/11  7:30 AM
Poppy Cat Saturday 4/11  12:00 PM Sunday 4/12  11:00 AM
Tree Fu Tom Saturday 4/11  12:30 PM Sunday 4/12  11:30 AM
Earth to Luna! Saturday 4/18  11:30 AM Saturday 4/18  7:30 AM
Poppy Cat Saturday 4/18  12:00 PM Sunday 4/26  12:30 PM
Tree Fu Tom Saturday 4/18  12:30 PM Sunday 4/26  12:00 PM
Earth to Luna! Saturday 4/25  11:30 AM Saturday 4/25  7:30 AM
Poppy Cat Saturday 4/25  12:00 PM Sunday 4/26  11:00 AM
Tree Fu Tom Saturday 4/25  12:30 PM Sunday 4/26  11:30 AM
Earth to Luna! Saturday 5/2  11:30 AM Saturday 5/2  7:30 AM
Poppy Cat Saturday 5/2  12:00 PM Sunday 5/3  11:00 AM
Tree Fu Tom Saturday 5/2  12:30 PM Sunday 5/10  11:30 AM
Poppy Cat Saturday 5/16  12:00 PM Sunday 5/17  11:00 AM
Tree Fu Tom Saturday 5/16  12:30 PM Sunday 5/17  11:30 AM
Tree Fu Tom Saturday 5/23  12:30 PM Sunday 6/14  11:00 AM
Lazytown Saturday 5/30  11:00AM Saturday 5/30  7:00 AM
Earth to Luna! Saturday 5/30  11:30 AM Saturday 5/30  7:30 AM
Poppy Cat Saturday 5/30  12:00 PM Sunday 6/14  11:30 AM
Tree Fu Tom Saturday 5/30  12:30 PM Sunday 6/14  12:00 PM
Astroblast Saturday 6/6  10:00 AM Saturday 6/6  1:00 PM
The Chica Show Saturday 6/6  10:30 AM Saturday 6/6  1:30 PM
Lazytown Saturday 6/6  11:00AM Saturday 6/6  7:00 AM
Earth to Luna! Saturday 6/6  11:30 AM Saturday 6/7  7:30 AM
Poppy Cat Saturday 6/13  12:00 PM Saturday 6/20  1:00 PM
Tree Fu Tom Saturday 6/13  12:30 PM Saturday 6/20  1:30 PM

In compliance with the Children’s Television Act regulations that became effective January 2, 1997, the NBC kids programming block features an on-air icon (E/I) indicating that each program is “educational and informational” for children.  This icon is displayed throughout each program.  Also, in compliance with the regulations, the following document, which includes “early educational and informational” objectives of NBC kids, must be placed in your public file. WHO-HD Channel 13.1 Regularly scheduled programming that is Educational and Information for children 4 to 8 years old:

The NBC kids programming block also meets the requirements for video described content, as established by the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, effective October 8, 2010.  Full-power affiliates of NBC that are located in the 25 television markets with the largest number of television households must provide video-described content at any time they are providing children’s programming.  Each episode of content can be aired no more than twice in the calendar year.

Each of the programs listed below, which make up the three hour NBC kids programming block, is specifically designed to serve the early educational and informational needs of children ages 2-5.  All of the programs have educational objectives and messages that are core to the content and appropriate for the program genre.

All six shows were developed specifically for a target audience composed of children ages 2-5.  Noodle and Doodle is a live action, fact based, craft and cooking show. The five remaining shows have a narrative format and three of the shows (Justin Time, The Chica Show, and Tree Fu Tom) use elements of fantasy and imagination to develop the educational content.  The Chica Show and Tree Fu Tom combine live action with animation, while Lazy Town is live action with puppets.  Poppy Cat and Astroblast! are both animated series.

Saturday’s 10:00 AM
Astroblast!, based on the book series “Astroblast!” by author and illustrator Bob Kolar, is set on a space station in an unknown solar system.  The station is populated by five animal characters and one 3-eyed octopus of unknown derivation.  Each episode begins with an everyday conversation or incident that grows into a predicament of some sort needing a solution.  While these predicaments take place on a space station populated by animal characters and aliens from different galaxies, the issues and resolutions resonate for a preschool audience.  Through comedy and zippy action, our target audience sees how the characters learn lessons for practical living such as how to:  keep track of things that belong to you, practice good habits, clean up a space when you’ve made a mess,  rebound from a failure or embarrassing incident, or resist the urge to blame others for your mistakes.


The Chica Show
Saturday’s 10:30 AM
Chica is a five-year-old “baby” chick who spends her days with her parents in their costume shop, the Coop. The shop’s one employee, Kelly, doubles as Chica’s nanny and the ensemble is rounded out with Bunji, a large floppy eared rabbit and Stitches, a straw mannequin that sits in the window.  In each episode Chica develops or encounters a problem that she cannot immediately resolve. Usually her issues involve impulse control, distractibility, judgment, and inter-personal behaviors. She and Kelly usually work on the problem through an adventure—a fantasy transformation to animation– where Bunji and Stiches come alive and join Chica and Kelly for the problem solving process. The core educational content is primarily socio-emotional development, and Chica learns how to express herself properly, think before she acts, and interact with others effectively. She often learns that it takes hard work and practice to become proficient at different skills.


Tree Fu Tom
Saturday’s 11:00 AM (Moves to 12:30pm on 4/4/15)
In each episode, Tom (live-acted) comes out of his house’s back door, puts on a power belt, and runs across his lawn into a woodland. In there is the tree with Treetopolis on, protected by a magic shield. Using the power belt he jumps up, shrinks to insect size as he flies into the tree, and enters the world of Treetopolis, where he has adventures. He is skilled in that world’s magic, and often gets characters out of scrapes. The tree’s sap is shown as a glowing orange magic liquid. Sometimes he has to call on “the big world” for magical help: he tells the audience to make particular magical moves and then say particular words to “send the magic to me”. The magic is shown as orange stuff appearing from around the camera and flying at Tom, who collects it in his arms in a ball, and uses it for whatever he needs it for. The movements which the audience are called on to make, are particularly beneficial for the development of children with dyspraxia.

The scenario includes magical “hoverboards” (called “leafboards”).  At the end he flies up, and out of the tree’s magic field, reverts to full human boy size, lands, runs out of the wood and across his back lawn, jumping over a bicycle lying on the lawn, and in through his back door.


The series was developed in conjunction with the Dyspraxia Foundation with the aim of promoting movement. Foundation specialists Sally Payne and Dr Lydia Foulder-Hughes worked with the series creators to develop the movements Tree Fu Tom uses to create magic. Five percent of children have dyspraxia, and these movements are similar to those used by occupational therapists to help child development. It is also hoped that the spells will help get exercise into the lives of young children.


Saturday’s 11:30 AM (Moves to 11am 4/4/15)
Lazy Town is a show that is all about health, fitness, and being good friends. Set in a fantasy world known as Lazy Town, which is populated by inactive residents, we see a visitor named Stephanie determined to coax her friends and relatives to begin healthful, active living. She wins over her new friends, Ziggy, Stingy, Trixie and Pixel, to leave their gaming consoles and candy stashes at home so they can go outside and play. She gets her Uncle, the Mayor and his friend Ms. Busy Body to support her efforts. But all of them are constantly foiled by Robbie Rotten, who lives underground and is determined to send Lazy Town back to inactivity and quiet. Coming to the rescue is the athlete Sportacus who lives in a spaceship and receives signals from the kids or the Mayor whenever they need help. Sportacus has two goals, to keep the peace and to promote healthful, positive living. When Robbie Rotten is discovered and contained through comic pratfalls, he goes back to his underground lair and all is well in Lazy Town, until another day and another time when Robbie will rise again.


Earth to Luna
Saturday’s 11:30 AM Starting 4/4/15

What adults often take for granted in life’s minutiae frequently delights children. One of those kids is Luna, 6, for whom the world is a giant laboratory, filled with opportunities to learn more about what things are, and why and how scientific actions take place. Luna’s passion for science prompts her exploration of the world with energy and enthusiasm. Little brother Jupiter and pet ferret Clive are by her side as the inquisitive girl pursues answers to her specific questions.


Saturday’s 12:00 PM
Poppy Cat, based on the book series by Lara Jones, models the use of imagination and storytelling to encourage creative thinking in viewers.  Each episode features the narrator Lara, reading a story about Poppy Cat, to her own cat (who is also named Poppy).  She weaves an exciting tale following her imagination, which leads her to distant lands reached by boat, plane, hot air balloon or train.  Each story features Poppy Cat, as the leader of a group of animal friends, a resident bully Egbert the badger, and other occasionally recurring characters.  A prevailing message emerges within each episode to be nice to your friends and always work together.  There remains an overarching implicit message within every episode as well: think creatively and exercise your mind through reading and storytelling – for these activities always lead to enjoyment and adventure.


Noodle & Doodle
Saturday’s 12:30 PM until 3/28/15
Noodle and Doodle, an instructional series, features creating art projects and cooking projects around a specific theme.  Host, Sean, drives around in a double-decker bus fully equipped with art supplies and a kitchen, ready for any assignment.  The projects encourage parent engagement and often feature families working together to make something to display within the child’s home.  Sean’s side-kick, Doggity, is an ever-faithful beagle who transforms into an animated character during interstitial trips to a parallel universe, set in a kitchen full of prank playing animated characters.  The art projects typically promote utilizing recycled materials in order to demonstrate that creativity can transform something intended for one purpose into something that achieves a completely different goal.


Regularly scheduled programming through WHO-HD Channel 13.2 (Iowa’s Weather Channel) that is Educational and Informational for children 13 – 16 years old:

Animal Rescue
Saturday’s 7AM
Animal Rescue is a weekly half-hour reality series showcasing spectacular rescues of all types of animals. The series focuses on the dedicated people around the world who help sick injured or abused animals. The program also instructs children on the proper care of animals and provides safety tips on how to care for all kinds of creatures in the animal kingdom. The show is aimed at children and families who want to learn about animal treatment, care and protection.

Dog Tales
Saturday 7:30 AM
Dog Tales showcases dogs and dog lovers of all types, providing valuable information about canine health, training, grooming and overall dog care as well as lessons on the responsibility of owning a dog. The show also provides informative segments on various dog breeds and show cases various veterinary experts explaining different issues affecting canines. The series also includes recommended reading lists about dogs, and promotes children’s writing and creative skills with essay and art contests.

Saturday’s 8AM
Pets. TV is a television program that provides educational and informational segments exposing the target audience of young viewers to everything Pets. The upbeat contemporary presentation relates pets to their lives and interests. Pets from everyday to the unique are showcased with educational information that shares how they evolved to become pets and their geographic origins. Professionals share personal experiences of featured animals and/or related products. In these segments the excitement and love of working with pets is expressed. The motivational and inspirational message of each guest empowers audiences of all ages to pursue more information and education about everything pets.

Biz Kid$
Saturday’s 8:30 AM
Biz Kid$ is a weekly half-hour series focusing on financial literacy and entrepreneurship for teens, targeting 13 to 16-year-olds. Using a mix of strong financial education tools, dynamic sketch comedy, and inspiring true stories of young entrepreneurs, Biz Kid$ provides important information for future success. Each episode features math, language arts, and social studies as well as teaching teens about money and business.

Saturday’s 9AM
Missing is a weekly half-hour reality series featuring actual cases of missing individuals, both adult and juvenile, from across the United States. Assisted by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, each episode includes interviews with friends, family and investigators involved with the case. We visit the missing individual’s last known whereabouts and provide viewers with all the relevant facts to increase public awareness in hopes of locating the missing person. The program includes tips and information to keep children safe.

The Real Winning Edge
Saturday’s 9:30AM
The Real Winning Edge is a weekly half-hour television series that meets the educational and informational objectives of the FCC’s Children’s Programming requirements for children ages 13-16. The program highlights adolescents and young adults making the right choices when faced with tough decisions and significant challenges. Recognizing that 13 to 16-year-olds are likely to be influenced by celebrities, the series features role models from the professional sports and the entertainment industries. Each episode is engaging, entertaining and educational in structure, presenting a powerful and positive message.

Regularly scheduled programming through WHO-HD Channel 13.3 (Antenna TV) that is Educational and Informational for children 9 – 14 years old:

Animal Atlas
Saturday’s 9 & 9:30AM
The Common Core State Standards Initiative, an attempt to set national curriculum that would bridge standards cross the states, was recently released by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State Officers. Both organizations would be happy to find Animal Atlas playing on a family‟s television set. Many of the goals for students in the targeted ages of 13-16 are underpinnings for this series, which delivers content as an entertaining, humorous, and fascinating look at the animal kingdom.

Family Matters, like all the reviewed Animal Atlas episodes, matches the pace and attention style of its target audience. More than 23 examples of cats are shown in little more than a minute of as the narrator runs through the characteristics of the animal family Felidae (cats). More than 21 different members of the dog family, Canidae, grab viewers in the same period of time. It is just enough time to get pulled into the topic. The episode goes on to do an excellent job of unveiling taxonomic animal families with a vibrant blend of animal faces, unusual physical characteristics, and diet. The episode gives the view much more than the familiar lions, tigers, pandas and giraffes. There are rock hyraxes, Maine wolves, okapi, spectacle bears, unusual foxes, red pandas, babyrousas, and thumb-sized bats. These are not just fascinating animal faces: there is content here.

Contrasting the characteristics of dog and cat families is done with visual punch, appropriate terminology, and surprising revelations. For example, the link between form and function in the biological life of these animal families is done with humor, clever visuals, and a sense of whimsical awe. The narrator, Eric Schwartz, does a tremendous job maintaining a tone of total fun. But beneath it all is age-appropriate vocabulary building with terms like digitigrades, carniform carnivores, hominids, and many others engagingly explained in the simple way that only great images can do. Each revelation builds upon the last, and the viewer is pulled along with the strategy of a successful video game.

The After the Dinosaurs episode confirms the tone and pace of the series. It is built around the fascinating revelation that all animals today had family ancestors that coexisted with dinosaurs—people, no, but mammals yes. Brought in as evidence are Komodo dragons, emus, gavials, naked moles, tamarins, and many more fascinating faces. The use of split screen is both clever and convincing when the series makes its points. The nicely done matching of animal shots makes comparisons simple—and dramatic. The framing of the cassowary as a dinosaur descendent is wonderful piece of eye and mind candy—and a perfect example of how Animal Atlas is both entertaining and educational. It makes masterful use of the narration and the visual. Along the way, as the episode makes its points, we learn the number of bird species (10,000+), mammal species (4,000+), the largest North American mammal (bison), and the importance of going beyond looks in placing animals in the right family (e.g., pinnipeds). The series, for all its great visuals, makes it clear that what a viewer sees in the animal world must be compared and contrasted to find a deeper level of fascination and fun. Learning along the way is inescapable.

Finally, there are two common series elements that have been established as favorites. The interstitial quizzes build critical thinking, not simple recall. And they keep you there during breaks. Last in each episode are cleverly engineered “out takes” from the animal footage. They are fast and laugh-out-loud funny. Animal Atlas retains its remarkable ability to entertain without condescension.

Target audience for tone, program content, and learning concepts  Middle and high school (ages 13-16)

General Category of Learning:

  • Life Sciences
  • Biological sciences
  • Thinking skills

Content Standards Applicable in the Animal Atlas series:
Content standards were pulled from the Common Core State Standards Initiative for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and technical Subjects (http://www.corestandards.org/), published in June 2010 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6–12 (condensed):

  • Key Ideas and Details> Determine the central ideas or conclusions; provide an accurate summary distinct from prior knowledge or opinions. Grades 6-8
  • Key Ideas and Details> Cite evidence to support analysis of science explanations> Determine the central ideas or conclusions; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms. Grades 9-10, 11-12
  •  Craft and Structure> Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context. Grades 9-10
  • Craft and Structure > Analyze how the text structures information or ideas into categories or hierarchies, demonstrating understanding of the information or ideas. Grades 11-12
  • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas> Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words into visual form. Grades 9-10
  • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas> Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation. Grades 6-8
  • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas> Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic. Grades 6-8

The Coolest Places on Earth
Saturday’s 10AM
“The Coolest Places on Earth” is an exploration of cities (both modern and ancient), natural wonders, and cultural history, heavy with engaging content, fast-paced editing, and the accessible, conversational narration we have come to expect from Bellum Entertainment. The series’ tone, information, and rich factual content reaches and serves the target 13-16-year-olds with a style that informs, supports, and encourages the kind of engaged thinking that have emerged from the Common Core State Standards. These standards, now adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia recognize the importance of engaging, relevant information about the world young people live in. This series’ episode also touches key points in the National Geography standards.

Each program features a minimum of three different locations, each separate geographically and historically. In the reviewed episode, which covered more than six locations, including contemporary New Zealand, historical Savannah, Georgia, and Sassi di Matera, Italy. The range of context in the episode’s highlights is focused and diverse, allowing fascinating history and culture—pirates, ghosts, caves, and ice hotels in the reviewed episode–and striking contemporary visuals that put the information in context. For 13-16-year-olds, this matches neatly with the National Geography Standards (Geography for Life). The standards want to equip young people with knowledge, perspectives and information to engage in “Earth’s diverse cultures and natural environments.” This program does that nicely while supplying stories to hold the mind of the viewer. The “coolest places on earth” are defined by history and culture, not just by the striking visuals that accompany every segment. Beyond geography, it covers food, art, architecture, music, and cultural events like festivals.

Episode: 101: Pirates, Caves, Volcanoes, and Ice
This series combines an amazing amount of diverse history, geography, and wonders. The wonders are both natural, such as volcanoes, Aurora Borealis, and caves, and man-made, examples including one hotel made of ice, and another underwater, an igloo village, and bungee jumping. The fast pace and matching sound track will reach both the young target audience and adults and hold viewer attention by lacing the rich visual landscapes with information, including notes on slavery, piracy, and local vocabulary (“collywobbles”). The variety of geographic locations allows for an amazing outpouring of anecdotes and facts. Examples: When Jules Verne published “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”; Oliver North in South America, the cost of a used 747 airplane; the dates of the American Revolutionary an Civil Wars; the oldest city in Georgia; the Golden Age of Piracy (1650-1720); and MIT’s contemporary pirate certification program. It is astonishing treat for the mind built with facts made entertaining by the wide range of physical locales.

This is not just a sightseeing program. The visit to the Savannah graveyard is given a historical context. The growth of piracy off North American waters is given economic perspective as well as intriguing details. The trip to New Zealand is not just delivered for the beauty of the islands, it’s given the story of the jet boat system that makes for such exciting motor speed. Unfamiliar locations in Italy, Canada, and Finland are fascinating but shown within the meaningful context of temperature (the ice hotel), human habitation (the caves), and economy (a luxury accommodation in a grounded 747 in the Costa Rican jungle). The rapid pace of the episode segments makes the program very sticky—hard to pull away from.

This is exactly the desire of the National Geography Standards whose topical goals are “Asking and Answering Questions About the World” and “Knowing About the World: Geographic Content Knowledge”. If the episodes of “The Coolest Places on Earth” make these standards seem fascinating, it’s because geography is fascinating. It just needs a context to prove it, and that is what makes good television such an impressive tool in reaching older students. And any program tapping the richness of the world’s geography, history and culture will also reach and engage adult audiences.

It rare to find a show as visually engaging and rich in content as “The Coolest Place on Earth.” It touches interesting topics such as pirates and the supernatural without pandering and brings context to the planets most arresting geography. Bellum continues to earn its reputation as a producer of enriching, engaging content for 13-16-year olds.

Education Summary:
Target audience for tone, program content, and learning concepts:
Middle and high school (ages 13-16)

  • General Category of Learning:
  • GeographyCommon Core State Standards (grades 8-12)*
  • History-Social Science (grades 8-12) *

*There is no Common Core State Standard specifically for history, social science, or geography, however this series addresses Common Core State Standards Initiative for English Language arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies for grades 9-12. The specific History/Social Science standards are drawn from the History-Social Science Content Standards for the state of California. They are representative of most general history social science standards.

Content Standards Applicable in the Coolest Places on Earth series:
Common Core
Research, Evidence, and Point of View

  • Students frame questions that can be answered by historical study and research.
  • Students distinguish fact from opinion in historical narratives and stories.
  • Students assess the credibility of primary and secondary sources and draw sound conclusions from them.
  • Students detect the different historical points of view on historical events and determine the context in which the historical statements were made (the questions asked, sources)

Historical Interpretation (grade 8, California State History-Social Science Content Standards)

  • Students explain the central issues and problems from the past, placing people and events in a matrix of time and place.

Historical Research, Evidence, and Point of View (grade 9-12, grade 8, California State History-Social Science Content Standards)

  • Students distinguish valid arguments from fallacious arguments in historical interpretations.

Historical Interpretation (grades 9-12)

  • Students show the connections, causal and otherwise, between particular historical events and larger social, economic, and political trends and developments.
  • Students interpret past events and issues within the context in which an event unfolded rather than solely in terms of present-day norms and values.

On the Spot
Saturday’s 10:30 AM
The opening sequence from On The Spot boldly lays claim to a wide range of education and information topics: Transportation, Geography, Technology, Culture, Environment, Government, Money, Sports, Food, Art, History, Music, Science, Math, Health, and Language. Then, in the thirty-minute program that follows, it delivers the goods. It succeeds in making a program that is essentially information-based engaging to the targeted 13-18 year-old audience. It succeeds through the strategy of an extremely fast-paced presentation linked with eye-catching visuals, a pounding soundtrack, and an amazing array of information glued together by a genial, self-amused narration. It is a perfect match for the 21st Century learner. The information comes at the viewer like potato chips—you can’t seem to take just one and it is impossible to put down the remote.

The visuals cuts are a fast, visually arresting 2-3 seconds long yet the narrative is not rushed. It pulls the viewer in with information reasonably covered at the secondary school level (and therefore accessible to the general public), but is a long way from the didactic presentation in a textbook. Try pulling away from questions like these: Can smiling cause happiness? Can someone detect a smile during a cellphone call? What is the loudest animal? What are the happiest professions—and the unhappiest? Or turning away from facts like these: There are ten million desert locusts in a swarm, 19 billion chickens on earth, and a running cheetah is faster than a racing sailfish in the sea.

Despite the enormous amount of information, the tone is never salacious or sarcastic but maintains a sense of basic wry astonishment at the workings of the world. For the target audience, this is important. Too often shows appealing for attention from this group outside school rely on snarky attitudes or comfortable stereotyping. On The Spot keeps a good distance from either of those approaches.

Education Summary:
Information is the beginning of knowledge creation and the episodes in On The Spot manage to deliver a great deal of information very quickly in an interesting way. Mainly, the show is entertaining and it is not hard to imagine that this program and the popcorn nature of its fast moving content would be equally appealing to adults. The mood, tone, and open quality of the program makes viewing it as much fun as watching a good game show. But it moves faster than a game show—perfect for young viewers in the mid-21st Century.

Target audience (13-18 year-olds) for tone, program content, and learning concepts:

  • Middle and high school (ages 13-18)

General Category of Learning:

  • Science
  • Mathematics
  • Economics
  • Physical Education
  • Music
  • Language
  • Health

Content Standards Applicable for On The Spot

Common Core
The Common Core Content Standards (adopted by all but four states) at the current date are outlined for English Language arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and technical Subjects (http://www.corestandards.org/ published in June 2010 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.) They address core learning standards but not yet all specific subject areas. A comparison of the Common Core elements “Key Points” below make the educational and information value of On The Spot clear.

Key Points in English Language Arts:

  • Speaking and Listening: The standards require that students gain, evaluate, and present increasingly complex information, ideas, and evidence through listening and speaking as well as through media.
  • Language: The standards expect that students will grow their vocabularies through a mix of conversations, direct instruction, and reading. The standards will help students determine word meanings, appreciate the nuances of words, and steadily expand their repertoire of words and phrases.

Key Points in Mathematics

  • The standards stress not only procedural skill but also conceptual understanding.
  • The high school standards call on students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to real world issues and challenges; they prepare students to think and reason mathematically.
  • The high school standards emphasize mathematical modeling, the use of mathematics and statistics to analyze empirical situations, understand them better… Quantities and their relationships in physical, economic, public policy, social and everyday situations can be modeled using mathematical and statistical methods

Research and media skills blended into the Standards as a whole

  • To be ready for college, workforce training, and life in a technological society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report on information and ideas, …and to analyze and create a high volume and extensive range of print and non-print texts in media forms old and new. The need to conduct research and to produce and consume media is embedded into every aspect of today’s curriculum.

Reading Standards for Information Text 6-12

  • Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Speaking and Listening Standards for 6-12

  • Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.

Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12

  • Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media
  • (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem. Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

Safari Tracks
Saturday’s 11& 11:30 AM
 Safari Tracks is a program with content grounded in the natural world and delivered using an approach that, while entertaining to a young audience, highlights the informational and educational aspects of the animal kingdom in the given environment of Africa. There is no question that an audience of young people would gain worthwhile information and concepts delivered with an enlightened attitude toward nature and the environment. Viewers receive topic points that help build the ethical decision-making necessary to becoming a citizen of the planet.

The data delivered in the episode reviewed, “The Need for Speed,” includes the groundspeeds attained by more than ten species and other information about predation and survival patterns in the wild. The information about specific species is not delivered in isolation but in the context of the ecosystem of the habitat. This is recognized as an important frame for information by virtually all recommended educational strategies.

The program consists of an engaging host, appropriately African, who offers an easygoing, natural look at animals that are exotic outside of the African continent. From the start, the host references terms in his native African language, a valuable acknowledgement of the multicultural world in which today’s children must live. The language level for the narration is at a sheltered middle school level. It presumes a vocabulary that is not beyond advanced upper elementary students. The program’s references to and explanation of the predator-prey relationship, the endangerment of natural habitat and species by human activity, and the relatively low survival rate of some animals, are an educational frame for the subject matter of individual animal characteristics. There is no inappropriate personification of the animals—too often a temptation when presenting material for young people—which keeps the material appealing to middle school and above. There is no comedic exploitation of animals in the footage. Neither is there oversimplification of any key concepts. The references, tone, and presentation all hold true to a line that serves its categorization as educational. The series lends itself to respect for the natural world and initiates discussion of issues relating to that world and encourages drawing of conclusions based upon information presented.

The program basic content consists of animal footage taken in the wild, a narration, and a score that features engaging regional musical. Musical accents are from more traditional genres but are effective in holding attention to the fast moving video clips. The program is edited with attention to the visual demands of today’s young media viewers. There are fast paced segments, attention-supplementing music tracks, and arresting video content, such as a man in an open vehicle fending off an angry ostrich charging at 45 miles per hour.

The program includes a final segment in a sardonic tone that serves as reinforcement and review of the material covered in the program.

Question: When you see a giraffe, should you grab its leg?
Answer: No, as we told you, a giraffe with a single kick can even kill a lion.

These questions and review are a commendable component of the program design. It would be particularly effective for parents watching the program with their children. It lends itself to interaction between the parents, the program content, and the student-aged viewer. Programs that reinforce meaningful television viewing among family members are commendable for broadcast.

Target audience for tone, program content, and learning concepts:

  • Middle and high school (ages 13-16)
  • Not inappropriate for upper elementary grades
  • Content, including predation discussions, might be too strong for primary aged students, although it would not require particular screening or advisories. The footage does not require traditional flagging.

General Category of Learning:  Life Science
Underlying Science Content Standards addressed:

  • Functions in ecosystems
  • Environment and adaptive characteristics
  • Data and comparison of characteristics across species
  • Adaptation of structure and function for survival

Secondary-specific science content standards addressed (examples drawn from the California State Science Content Standards, Biology/Life Sciences – Grades Nine Through Twelve):

  • Ecology: Stability in an ecosystem is a balance between competing effects. Students know biodiversity is the sum total of different kinds of organisms and is affected by alterations of habitats.
  • Students know how fluctuations in population size in an ecosystem are determined by the relative rates of birth, immigration, emigration, and death.
  • Students know how to distinguish between the accommodation of an individual organism to its environment and the gradual adaptation of a lineage of organisms through genetic change.
  • Students know why natural selection acts on the phenotype (physical organism) rather than the genotype (genetic code) of an organism.
  • Students know variation within a species increases the likelihood that at least some members of a species will survive under changed environmental conditions.
  • Students know how natural selection determines the differential survival of groups of organisms.
  • Students know a great diversity of species increases the chance that at least some organisms survive major changes in the environment.
  • Students know reproductive or geographic isolation affects speciation.

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