What's On This Website?
, a project produced by WGBH Boston for PBS Kids, has two components: a website and an app. Both focus on piquing kids' interest in environmental science. The website houses outstanding animated videos that introduce the adorable alien Plum and five human kids she has befriended: Clem, Oliver, Gabi, Brad, and Cooper. It also has online eco games, live-action videos of families doing eco-friendly things, hands-on experiments for kids to do away from the computer, and missions to draw or take photos of things found in nature.
Plum is a round, purple alien from the planet of Blorb, who has an insatiable curiosity for the ecosystems found on Earth. She learns things by sending her human friends on missions to do things like find a lake in the middle of a desert or take photos of mangrove trees in Belize. Plum's special talents let her encase her human friends in bubbles so that they can quickly travel around the world and venture into locations not otherwise explorable. She also has a gadget that lets her friends time travel.
By sending Clem, Oliver, Gabi, Brad, and Cooper on missions to the Australian desert, the Canadian Rockies, the mangrove swamps in Belize, and the jungle in Borneo, Plum is able to gather enough information and photos to create video games for kids to play on this site. These missions are all shown as animated webisodes. In one, Plum sends Clem to the mangroves for more photos and while there, Clem discovers a whole ecosystem inside one tree. Clem is even able to use a bubble to explore the life that is teaming within the tree's underwater roots.
How Kids Play
The Plum Landing website has an excellent navigation bar at the top of the page. From there, players select to play games, view videos, learn more about Plum's ship and her human friends, or check out pictures from other Earthlings. If kids sign in before playing games, the site keeps track of points earned, which can be used to acquire animated stickers for your profile picture.
The games fall into two categories: ecosystem games and photo hunts. There is one of each type set in the four ecosystems of the desert, the mangrove, the mountains, and the jungle. There is also a drawing activity. .
With each of the four ecosystem games, kids are tasked with adding plants and animals into the biome over a 12-day period. Each day takes just a few minutes. Kids learn about the ecosystem by experimenting. For example, in the mangrove ecosystem simulation, many of the animals eat mosquitos, so you have to be careful to introduce enough of these insects. .
In the photo hunt games, Plum will assign you a specific task, such as finding three animals looking for food or three trees that produce special seeds. There are 12 rounds in each game, and three are speed rounds where you are trying to find as many of one animal as you can.
Why Plum Landing Is Great
This website is so entertaining that it will pique kids' interest in the environment. The games are spectacular, because they sport beautiful graphics and intriguing gameplay. They don't miss opportunities to introduce learning, but it is always done in a fun and interesting manner. For example, with the photo hunt games, Plum will introduce a new concept such as "adaptations" or "camouflage" and then ask the player to find plants or animals using the new concept. And before starting a speed round in these photo hunt games, Plum introduces additional information about the specific animal you are to photograph.
The live action videos show real families doing eco-friendly projects, such as planting a vegetable garden and making a rain barrel. They also show real kids doing experiments that are easy to duplicate. Players will easily relate to what they see and may ask if your family can do something similar. .
The site also hosts learning materials for both parents and educators, explaining how to best use all the learning gems that are housed in this site.
Plum Landing is a plum website for all kids interested in eco matters. It is one of the best environmental science resources we have ever reviewed.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.