Teacher Shares the Fruits of IdahoPTV Summer Coding Camps

Kari Wardle, IdahoPTV’s teacher ambassador, has seen her share of classrooms this year.

As one of only five educators nationwide selected for the inaugural PBS Teacher Community Program, Wardle has been helping teachers in rural Idaho school districts incorporate technology and digital media in the classroom. She’s also been helping them gain access to professional development through virtual field trips, webinars and teacher meet-ups.

Recently, the Twin Falls Times-News reported on Wardle’s work in the Wendell School District. They caught up with her on “Tech Talk Thursday” as she demonstrated creating and sharing digital documents using Google Docs — a tool teachers can use both to collaborate with other teachers and to give students quick feedback on assignments submitted digitally.

If you’re curious what the long-range results of Wardle’s efforts look like in the classroom, check out these photos sent in by a teacher in Marsing.

A Marsing third-grader codes an animated Mayflower scene. Photo: Ken Price
A Marsing third-grader codes an animated scene aboard the Mayflower. Photo: Ken Price

Over the summer, Wardle taught “coding camps” to teachers in southwest Idaho utilizing ScratchJr, an animated coding app that helps students create interactive stories and games. She discussed with Marsing teacher Ken Price ways to implement coding into the curriculum.

Price reported back a few months into the school year that students were enthusiastically embracing their creative coding skills.

“What you see in these pictures are kids writing code to depict scenes and characters found in Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims,” Price said. The book, a historical novel for young readers written by Rush Limbaugh, tells the story of a middle-school history teacher named Rush Revere who travels back in time to the deck of the Mayflower.

“In one picture you have a third-grade student writing code to produce his idea of the Mayflower,” Price said. “The other one is another third-grader who created the characters Liberty the talking horse and Rush Revere in his coding work.”

“Thanks again for all your support in advancing the learning of Marsing youth,” Price said. “Now you see in these photos that your efforts are bringing about some amazing activities.”

Another Marsing third-grader creates a scene with Rush Revere and his talking horse. Photo: Ken Price
Another Marsing third-grader creates a scene with Rush Revere and his talking horse. Photo: Ken Price

‘Wild Kratts’ Fans Meet the Kratt Brothers in Boise

Fans of the PBS Kids program Wild Kratts got a chance to meet the show’s stars, Martin and Chris Kratt, in Boise on October 1. The Kratt brothers were in town for two performances of Wild Kratts Live!, part of the 2017-2018 Fred Meyer Broadway in Boise season at the Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts. The show is a live theatrical presentation based on the animated television series.

Students from Donnelly Elementary School went behind the scenes to meet Martin and Chris Kratt during the Boise performance of Wild Kratts Live!
Students from Donnelly Elementary School go behind the scenes to meet Martin and Chris Kratt before a Boise performance of Wild Kratts Live!

Wild Kratts Live! begins with the Kratt brothers donning their Creature Power vests to give comical but educational demonstrations about the abilities of wild animals. Then the brothers receive a message that their archenemy, Zach, and his Zachbots have stolen one of the Wild Kratts’ favorite inventions. With their amazing animal abilities, the brothers set off to confront the bumbling villain. The Kratts’ technology doesn’t always work as planned, which results in pratfalls and slapstick fun, but the brothers press on and ultimately rescue their invention from Zach’s clutches.

A limited number of fans had the chance to go behind the scenes and meet Martin and Chris Kratt before each performance.

“My sons love the Wild Kratts show. When I saw there was an opportunity for my sons to meet the Kratt brothers, it didn’t take me long to decide to move on it,” says IdahoPTV viewer Samantha Marshall. “I felt it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for them to meet the heroes who have taught them so many fantastic creature facts. Since my niece and nephew also enjoy the show, I thought it would be a great family adventure. And, indeed, it was. We all had a marvelous time. Not only was Wild Kratts Live! an energetic and engaging program, but the meet-and-greet afterwards was all we had hoped it would be. My sons and their cousins were delighted to meet Chris and Martin and to be able to ask them questions. Plus, Martin queried each one about their favorite creature. It was truly an opportunity my sons won’t soon forget. Thank you, Idaho Public Television, for providing such a wonderful experience for my family and me!”

Teena Wright, Idaho Public Television’s membership director, says, “Children’s education is a big part of what we do at IdahoPTV. Community events such as Wild Kratts Live! are fun and meaningful ways for us to engage our community partners like the Morrison Center, our donors and their families around our commitment to quality educational programming.”

New ‘Science Trek’ Video Shorts Explore Botany

Idaho Public Television’s original series Science Trek explores the anatomy of plants, discovers which plants are edible, and visits the Idaho Botanical Garden in a series of video shorts on botany released in October.

Science Trek BotanyEach month, Science Trek explores a subject with digital shorts available on the Science Trek website, on a Facebook page for parents and teachers, on YouTube, and on PBS LearningMedia, a free media site for preK-12 educators.

The following video shorts will be available on these platforms in October:

Botany: The Basics – Botany is the study of plants. Learn the parts of the plant, how they make food and how they keep us alive.

Botany: Idaho Botanical Garden – Take a tour of parts of the Idaho Botanical Garden to learn more about the plants around us. Find out more about the English garden, carnivorous plants, and some interesting ways to grow food. Elizabeth Dickey, education director for the Idaho Botanical Garden, is interviewed.

Botany: Edible Plants – Earth has more than 80,000 edible plants, yet we eat only a small fraction of those.  Science Trek shows you some alternative plants to try at your next dinner.

Botany: Record Plants – Plants are pretty amazing. Find out which ones set records.

Botany: Fruit or Vegetable – Some things we call a vegetable are actually fruits, unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes.

Botany: Seeds – Seeds are how plants begin, but seeds come in all shapes and sizes. Find out more about seeds.

Science Trek is made possible through funding from Idaho National Laboratory.

IdahoPTV Honors Its Volunteers

On September 21, Idaho Public Television held its annual volunteer appreciation event at its studios in Boise. Volunteers were treated to dinner, thanked for their service, and shown previews of upcoming local and national programs that their volunteer work makes possible.

Volunteers honored by Idaho Public Television

According to Shane Chariton, IdahoPTV major giving director, volunteers across the state worked 5,380 hours this past year. Using a $24.14 average value of a volunteer hour (calculated annually by Independent Sector), that’s the equivalent of $129,873 donated as volunteer work — funds that were able to be put toward programs and activities that support IdahoPTV’s mission: to encourage lifelong learning, connect Idaho communities, and enrich the lives of all Idahoans.

Jerry Finnegan (left) honored as IdahoPTV volunteer of the year by Shane Chariton (right).
Jerry Finnegan (left) honored as IdahoPTV volunteer of the year by Shane Chariton (right).

Jerry Finnegan (pictured) was named Idaho Public Television’s volunteer of the year. “We notice and appreciate Jerry’s positive energy and enthusiasm for IdahoPTV year after year as a volunteer camera operator,” Chariton says.

Jerry’s son, Brian, and wife, Betty, have also volunteered along with Jerry. Betty, who passed away in 2014, was also remembered and honored during the event.

“The staff of Idaho Public Television wishes to thank all of our wonderful volunteers,” Chariton says. “We are incredibly grateful for you!”

‘Outdoor Idaho’ Examines the Fate of Idaho’s Wild Horses

Outdoor Idaho kicks off its 35th season with a look at Idaho’s Wild Horses (October 19 at 8 PM and October 22 at 7 PM). Mustangs are a symbol of our Western tradition, yet they are often reviled, as they compete for resources with livestock and wildlife in an ever-changing environment impacted by range fire and drought.

OI Wild Horses WordPress 10-19 and 22-17

In 2017 about 73,000 horses roamed free on designated grazing areas around the West. That’s about three times the number originally set forth by Congress. The agencies charged with their care under the Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 are caught in the middle of a political and public-affairs crisis as the current administration moves to cut the budget for wild horses and burros.

If this happens, the fate of nearly 50,000 excess animals gathered from the range is uncertain. They are cared for and fed by the government in holding corrals or off-range pasture at a cost to taxpayers of nearly $50 million per year. With populations out of control, solutions are dwindling for the Bureau of Land Management.

“The track that we’re on is simply unsustainable,” says BLM public affairs specialist Heather Tiel-Nelson. “The cost alone of managing wild and free-roaming horses off the range is staggering.”

Producer Sauni Symonds takes a look at what is happening with wild horse herds in our state and how some new ideas may offer solutions to a seemingly hopeless situation. “It’s a very complicated and emotional issue for many, and at the heart of it is an icon of the American West, whose survival seems to depend on compromise and cooperation.”

Read more about the show at Outdoor Idaho’s “Behind the Stories.”

IdahoPTV Viewers Benefit From Partnership With Meridian’s Village Cinema

Idaho Public Television has once again teamed up with Village Cinema and The Village at Meridian to present a free public screening of a PBS Masterpiece premiere. This season it was the opening episode of Poldark, Season 3.

Poldark fans pose with their favorite Masterpiece hero before the screening
Poldark fans pose with their favorite Masterpiece hero before the screening

It came as no surprise to IdahoPTV staff that when they announced a September 18 screening from the new season of Poldark (which airs on IdahoPTV beginning October 1), they filled two entire theaters at Village Cinema and generated a waiting list, all within three days.

According to Teena Wright, membership director with Idaho Public Television, “These Masterpiece series are hugely fan-based. Many of our viewers have read all the books the series are based on and know every chapter and scene in advance. By hosting a screening in a local movie theater, IdahoPTV is able to bring together our viewers and the community for a fun public event. And thanks to our partnership with Village Cinema and The Village at Meridian, we’re able to present the screenings for free.”

IdahoPTV first teamed up with Village Cinema and The Village at Meridian for a screening from the Masterpiece series Downton Abbey in 2014. The numerous screenings since then have also included creative partnerships with Backstage Bistro, a wine bar and restaurant located upstairs within Village Cinema.

Will Bomar, events manager with Village Cinema, adds, “Backstage Bistro is excited to have worked once again with IdahoPTV, this year adding a special cocktail hour before the event, featuring the fun ‘Poldark and Handsome’ drink.”

Customized menus at Backstage Bistro during the Poldark screening
Customized menus at Backstage Bistro during the Poldark screening

PBS President Paula Kerger Talks Education, Fall Programs With Boise Audience

Paula Kerger, president and CEO of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), visited Boise on September 14 to help Idaho Public Television thank its funding partners and introduce the fall lineup of PBS programs. She also announced the launch of the PBS Kids 24/7 channel, which is planned to begin broadcasting around-the-clock educational programming over the IdahoPTV airwaves in early 2018.

PBS President Paula Kerger announces the PBS Kids 24/7 channel
PBS President Paula Kerger Announces the PBS Kids 24/7 Channel

Speaking at a luncheon for sponsors of IdahoPTV programming, Kerger gave a preview of upcoming PBS programs including The Vietnam War, a 10-part, 18-hour documentary from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that airs on IdahoPTV this fall. Citing the film’s diversity of perspectives, including Americans who fought in the war and those who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians, Kerger said, “The Vietnam War epitomizes the content we present to the American public — content that gives oxygen and airtime to complex issues, content that encourages civil discourse at a time when it is so desperately needed. … I believe this is the most important film of the year, if not the decade.”

Funding Partners Raise a Toast to IdahoPTV
Funding Partners Raise a Toast to IdahoPTV

Kerger then turned her comments to education. “At the very core of public broadcasting’s work is a relentless pursuit of knowledge and an unwavering commitment to education … and that begins with our nation’s youngest learners.” She introduced the PBS Kids 24/7 channel, which aims to offer free nationwide access to PBS educational programming.

“Today, PBS Kids reaches more children ages 2 to 5, more kids in low-income homes, and more moms with young children than any other children’s TV network,” Kerger said. “For every child we reach, we know there are so many more who could benefit if they had access to our proven educational content. Over the past decade, we’ve focused on making our educational programming available to as many families as possible, across a range of platforms. I am incredibly grateful to Idaho Public Television and the many people in this room who are helping to bring this game-changing service to Idaho in early 2018. PBS Kids 24/7 will benefit all families, especially the nearly 70 percent of children across Idaho who are not enrolled in preschool.”

That figure comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book, which ranks Idaho last in the nation for the number of toddlers enrolled in preschool — with 69 percent not enrolled, compared with the national average of 53 percent.

PBS Fans Show Their Support
PBS Fans Show Their Support

Throughout her presentation, Kerger reinforced the importance of public media in educating people of all ages, as well as the vital role played by those who support it.

“For millions of Americans — especially those in rural areas and remote communities — public television is a vital connection to the world. It may be their only opportunity to see a Broadway show, visit the farthest corners of the earth, or access in-depth news and public affairs programs,” Kerger said. “While federal funding is critical to keeping many of our smaller and rural stations on air, we could not deliver on our very important mission without the support of individuals, philanthropists, corporations and foundations. The strength of public media can be found in our name — we are the ‘public’ broadcasting service. Our roots are firmly planted in the community, and to this day we continue to derive our strength and our inspiration from the community.”