Craft services teams will have their own reasons for appreciating a new augmented reality game from PBS Kids. The free Fetch! Lunch Rush App teaches basic math skills by challenging players to fill a film crew’s sushi orders, since “One of the most important jobs on a movie crew is making sure that there is enough food for everyone on the set.”
PBS Kids said this was its first augmented reality game app. Players download and cut out markers, then use the iPhone or iPod touch camera to overlay computer-generated graphics on top of the real-world environment. The company previously released a virtual reality experience called Dinosaur Train Hatching Party in which kids printed out a dinosaur egg and held it up to their webcam to watch it hatch on the screen.
“Augmented reality is becoming a popular marketing tool and a compelling feature for gamers, but no one has fully explored what this could mean for educating children,” said Jason Seiken, senior vice president, Interactive, Product Development and Innovation, PBS. “We’re excited to expand our exploration of this space … and continue PBS Kids’ leadership in using new technologies to further learning.”
The Fetch! Lunch Rush App was produced by PBS member station WGBH and is based on the PBS Kids Go! series Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman, also produced by WGBH. In this multiplayer app, Ruff Ruffman has to collect the lunch order for his studio crew. The challenge is keeping track of how many pieces of sushi everyone wants using augmented reality markers that prompt activity within the app. The app uses 3-D imagery to reinforce the early algebraic concepts, helping kids to make the connection between real objects and corresponding numeric symbols.
Fair warning to parents: the instructions include “quick wits” and “room to run” in the list of requirements.
“The Fetch! Lunch Rush App is designed as a 3-D game, which helps kids visualize the math problems they are trying to solve,” added Lesli Rotenberg, senior vice president, Children’s Media, PBS. “At PBS Kids our goal is to use media to nurture kids’ natural curiosity and inspire them to explore the world around them; we can’t wait to see what this new app will mean for furthering that exploration.”
The Fetch! Lunch Rush App is available for free from Apple’s App Store and via the PBS Kids Lab.