New study finds first-graders’ math knowledge increases with PBS KIDS’ Odd Squad

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016 by Tom Martin

PBS Kids Odd Squad A new study by WestEd, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research, development and service agency, confirms the positive educational impact of the PBS KIDS series Odd Squad. The series, for children ages 5-8, airs at 4:30/3:30 pm Monday-Friday on KET and weekdays at 6:30/5:30 am and Saturdays at 10/9 am on KET2. The series is also available on demand through the PBS KIDS app.

First-graders’ knowledge of algebraic thinking, as well as of numbers and operations, increased significantly during the study in which the children, their families and their teachers used digital and hands-on resources from the series Odd Squad. Materials used in the classroom by teachers and participating children, and at home by children and their families, included television episodes, online games, video clips and hands-on activities.

Teachers used episodes and related resources from Odd Squad in their classroom instruction. At home, parents were encouraged to watch an Odd Squad episode with their child, then discuss it and do an activity together about the math content in the episode.

Key Findings

  • Over the course of the study, students’ overall knowledge of mathematics in the domains of numbers and operations and algebraic thinking increased significantly
  • In sub-categories of mathematical knowledge, students showed significant and positive pre- and post-changes on their knowledge of skip counting, pattern recognition, and simple addition and subtraction
  • Children who were exposed to the PBS KIDS transmedia resources outscored their comparison group peers
  • Parents’ awareness of their children’s mathematics development significantly increased over the course of the intervention.

The study, “Odd Squad: Learning Math with PBS KIDS Transmedia Content at School and Home,” was conducted on behalf of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the PBS Ready To Learn initiative. More information is available at

This research study is the sixth WestEd study that has analyzed and found positive effects on early learning from PBS KIDS’ television, hands-on activities and interactive content. Previous studies have demonstrated the learning impact of other PBS KIDS series, specifically, Peg + Cat, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, Sid the Science Kid and Curious George.

Louisville H.S. junior selected for summer PBS NewsHour intern experience

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016 by Tom Martin


“I receive a significant amount of joy and happiness every time I get the chance to tell a new story.”

These are the thoughts of an excited Jailen Leavell, a junior at Louisville’s Pleasure Ridge Park High School, one among 20 talented middle and high school storytellers from 11 states selected for summer internships at PBS NewsHour in Washington, D.C.

Supported by a grant from PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs, KET has been working on video production techniques with Jailen and other students at Pleasure Ridge Park as well as at Elizabethtown’s Central Hardin and John Hardin high schools. Students who participate in the project learn how to think critically, problem-solve, synthesize information and investigate important topics.

Now, as a fellow for the PBS Summer Student Reporting Academy, Leavell will be further mentored by public media professionals and given the opportunity to sharpen his journalism and production skills by producing original digital content. “I’m interested in all three components of journalism: videography, producing, and writing.  I never want to limit myself, I want to be well rounded for my future,” he said.

In addition to hands-on production experiences, the interns will also have opportunities to contribute as PBS staff develops strategies to engage young people in news and current affairs.

For Leavell and the other young journalists in Louisville and Elizabethtown who have been participating in the Student Reporting Labs, the experience has been enlightening. They reported on how their peers view racial tensions in their own communities and how young people are breaking down gender stereotypes, contributing their stories to the NewsHour’s broadcast and digital platforms.

“A couple months ago I had the opportunity to produce a story on a Louisville male teen,” Leavell recalled. “He was a fashion designer, and he expressed to us how it isn’t the norm for young men to design women’s clothing. But he holds his head high and doesn’t even acknowledge the negative comments he sometimes receives.”

The Student Reporting Lab curriculum, developed in partnership with the Media Education Lab of Temple University as well as media professionals and high school teachers, is divided into three flexible units with a total of 10 lesson plans aimed at strengthening digital and news literacy competencies.

Along with technical instruction on the use of cameras and editing equipment, the Student Reporting Labs also focus on the role of journalism in society and developing broader communication skills, including listening, asking questions, public speaking, and finding, analyzing and evaluating the quality of information.

Digital technologies have democratized journalism, giving anyone with a smart device the tools to instantly record, edit and share video and texts about events. But Leavell believes it’s important to keep one foot firmly rooted in traditional media. “I feel Citizen Journalism is very important when appropriate and on the right occasion. I will always support and enjoy the traditional forms of journalism, though, as it’s important that the public always has a trustworthy news organization to look to for accurate and balanced news.”

In November 2014, KET hosted 42 students and six teachers from Pleasure Ridge Park, John Hardin and Central Hardin High schools for a day of workshops and presentations on effective interviewing techniques, production planning, video production, and green-screen technologies. Students heard from Bill Goodman, host and managing editor of KET’s Kentucky Tonight program, Connections host and legislative affairs reporter Renee Shaw, and other members of the KET production staff.

Student Reporting Labs is a part of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, a public media initiative helping communities improve education opportunities for all students and build the next generation of skilled graduates.

The Reporting Labs are made possible by grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Science Foundation.

Kentucky students to work side by side with research professionals

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 by Tom Martin

 Gatton Academy students among first Emperor of Science Award winners

dickenhaley “I believe the cure for cancer is in our future. “ That’s the positive outlook of Kentucky student Haley Dicken. She and fellow Kentucky student Makenzie Daniels have been selected from among 1,200 high school applicants throughout the nation as winners of the inaugural Emperor of Science Award.

The award program, inspired by the PBS documentary Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies is designed to encourage high school students to explore careers in cancer research and care through a mentoring opportunity pairing them with leading research professionals in the field.

Dicken and Daniels are in their first year as students at Western Kentucky University’s Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky.

“Not unlike most people, I have a family history of cancer in my family,” noted Daniels. “The particular cancer that sparks my interest is hereditary breast and ovarian cancer related to the BRCA genetic mutation. My father’s side of the family tested positive for the mutation and my paternal grandmother died due to ovarian cancer related to this gene.  Research in both treatments and prevention of cancer related to the genetic mutation is what I will be doing with my mentor.”


Daniels, a student researcher in the WKU department of biology’s Genome Discovery and Exploration Program, will be working with Dr. Shannon L. Puhalla, director, Breast Cancer Clinical Research Program and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine.  Dr. Puhalla is a medical oncologist and hematologist who specializes in breast oncology, Phase I clinical trials, and novel therapeutics in breast cancer.

Dr. Puhalla’s plans for Daniels’ 8-to-12-week research experience include the preparation of a manuscript outlining recent clinical trial findings. “It is a lot of work to compile and synthesize all of the clinical trial data into a paper. There is a lot of data analysis that goes into writing a paper and I think at her level she can assist with this but also learn what goes into a clinical trial and how we determine if there is safety and efficacy with a new drug.”

Dicken will be paired for 8-to-12 weeks with Dr. Natasha Kyprianou, the James F. Hardymon Chair in Urologic Research at the University of Kentucky Medical Center and a professor at the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center.  “Exposing the student to the rigorous research dynamic not only at UK but also from institutions across the nation will provide a monumental intellectual stimulation, strength to face challenges with determination and passion towards the cause of curing cancer,” said Dr. Kyprianou. “It will be a journey of inspiration, creativity and impact, all around.”

In addition to these invaluable research experiences, Daniels and Dicken will receive Google Chrome notebooks in support of their studies and $1,500 stipends for their expenses. They also will have the opportunity to continue the mentoring program throughout high school.

The award program is made possible by founding donors Genetech, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Novartis and through partners Stand Up to Cancer and PBS Learning Media.

Dicken senses that she has entered the ground floor of a career with historic potential. “This is an exciting field of study to be in, as it has been suggested in the world of cancer research that our generation may be the generation to discover the cure for cancer.”

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