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PBS Kids: Plum Landing
Pros: Hands-on investigations help kids explore the world around them and build scientific understanding.
Cons: Alignment to the Next Generation of Science Standards leaves a bit to be desired.
Bottom Line: Student-directed investigations and outdoor extension activities elevate Plum Landing beyond just a companion site for the TV show.
PBS Kids: Plum Landing is not designed for traditional learning settings, but can be used as a supplemental resource for classroom teachers. Afterschool pathways are already set up as one-hour standalone sessions. Many of these could easily be done in a single class period. The Club Pathways are set up for five one-hour sessions. This could be adapted for a one-week science session or spread out over a longer period of time in classrooms that only do science once or twice a week.
Some videos, like the one included in the Sound Safari Introduction, help teachers see examples of how the lesson might work. Be aware, however, that showing this to kids in advance of the activity may direct students in a very narrow way. These introductory videos are probably best used for teachers, only because they may remove some of the student inquiry from the task.
PBS Kids: Plum Landing is a free environmental-science website that encourages students to love -- and become curators of -- our planet. Through videos, games, and outdoor lesson plans, kids learn about such topics as adaptation, biodiversity, ecosystems, food webs, and water. Each educational theme has been structured into a specified pathway. Pathways are designed for science clubs, summer programs, or afterschool groups, but can also be adapted for traditional classroom use.
PBS Kids: Plum Landing has a well-balanced combination of digital and real-world activities that lend themselves well to kids' scientific learning. In Roots and Shoots, kids build models of plants using sponges to look at adaptations for conserving water. This activity is fun and clearly addresses the concepts of adaptation and structure & function. The site also includes games like Feed the Dingo that are fun, challenging, and push kids to look for patterns to figure out things for themselves.
While Plum Landing's pathways have been linked to the Next Generation Science Standards, the lessons themselves aren't always well aligned to the Disciplinary Core Ideas. Sound Safari is linked to three different Disciplinary Core Ideas, none of which match the learning goals about animal sounds. The lesson is also linked to Structure and Properties of Matter; these ideas could use a deeper examination. While better alignment would better support teachers, overall the site offers kids a new and exciting perspective from which they can explore their world.