KUED’s PBS KIDS Exploration Corner Boosts Conference Attendance and Engagement
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Three years ago, attendance to the Utah Education Association (UEA) Convention had been on the decline, after the state cut funding for the convention and teachers were no longer paid to attend. So, KUED and UEA teamed up to increase attendance by encouraging teachers, teachers with young children of their own, and families to attend the conference.
The creation of the KUED Kids Exploration Corner –a dedicated PBS KIDS-themed cluster of booths at the conference, hosted by KUED and like-minded community partners-- aligned with these goals and with KUED’s commitment to provide early learning opportunities to Utah’s families.
This year, the KUED Kids booth had a STEM theme, with a focus on how to build rockets and the science behind the rocket’s flight. The KUED Kids community partner booths also hosted hands-on STEM learning moments and highlighted the Utah Kids Ready To Read literacy practices: talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing. Each community partner provided a hands-on activity, a learning moment, a take home activity, curriculum guides, and teacher resources. Partners ranged from the local library to the children’s museum to a local dinosaur park and more. And after three years of such engagement, the KUED Kids Exploration Corner is making a difference:
2012 was the first year that KUED hosted the KUED Kids Exploration Corner, and the first year the convention was open to the public and not just educators. With this change and the addition of the KUED Exploration Corner, there has been a 40% increase in attendance over the past three years.
Meaningful Engagement with PBS KIDS
This opportunity has put KUED and the PBS KIDS brand in front of Utah’s educators, teachers in training, parents, children, and administrators. This face-to-face interaction and engagement has given KUED the opportunity to schedule events and trainings like PBS Learning Media trainings and Ready To Learn Family Nights at Title I elementary schools. Teachers, parents, and children also get to interact with the PBS KIDS products and learn more about the free parent tools, PBS KIDS online educational games, and educational apps.
Heightened Brand Awareness
The Exploration Corner has positioned KUED to coordinate with 7-10 community organizations that support early learning each year. These organizations range from libraries, to children’s museums, to zoos and parks. As the host and facilitator, KUED is able to brand the corner with PBS KIDS education programming, and each partner’s activity ties into one of the PBS KIDS STEM programs. Characters, educational activities, etc., often come directly from the PBS KIDS resources. The trusted PBS KIDS brand allows KUED to partner successfully with other educational groups and organizations, and promote resources successfully with the support of the organizations.
Expanded Community Partnerships
KUED’s partnership with UEA has deepened since this partnership began. KUED Education Coordinator Elise Peterson now sits on the UEA board and works with them to cross-promote educational opportunities to educators and parents. UEA also continues to fund KUED’s Teacher Innovation Awards. This partnership is very meaningful for both organizations, as are the relationships KUED builds with the other partners who participate in the Exploration Corner each year, as these too lead to additional exposure for PBS KIDS and KUED’s education mission.
KUED has the following advice for other stations considering similar endeavors: It is very important for all partners involved to provide teachers with something concrete that they could implement in the classroom tomorrow. Educators get flooded with information at education conferences, and it is important that the resources PBS stations are providing them are hands-on, relevant, and easy to understand. As such, KUED enlisted the station’s graphic designer to create a simple one-sheet with a brief lesson plan and links to KUED’s other educator resources.