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Science After School (SAS) Consumers Guide  

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Review Synopsis: by afterschool program expert Ronald Skeete

Fetch is a website and "reality show" for children age 6 through 10. The format is very engaging for this age group as it follows a hilarious cartoon character on adventures of exploration and fun. Quite similar to the ever popular Dora and Nickelodeon characters, the website has a host of games and information in addition to episodes of the "reality show." In the show the participants are all children and they compete against each other in a variety of challenges where they must utilize the scientific method and teamwork to win. There is no cost to Fetch and it’s so easy to use that it a welcome addition to any afterschool program.
Full Review:
"Fetch" represents a definite victory in the science education arena. This concept fully utilizes the multimedia attributes that children love.

The website is full of color and activity. Fetch is a lovable and crazy character along the lines of a "tame" SpongeBob which is absolutely a hit with children 6 – 10 years of age. The website and games are captivating. There are 13 different and fun games to play at any given time. The games all involve varying levels of academic skill. For example, Robot Rover (my personal favorite) has participants design their own robot. For each option on the robot (e.g. wheels) there are difference effects on the robot's operation. Participants have to decipher which option will best accomplish the tasks given to the robot. To accumulate points, the players have to pay attention to the tasks assigned and work wisely with the robot they design. Clues are given and the challenge begins. A fun an interactive way to keep children's minds active. I can easily see this being used in an after-school setting either by having it complement similar subject reviews or by using it as a "down-time" activity.

My Show is a hit. I actually saw this show a few months before reviewing the product. On its own, the show can attract many interested viewers. Coupled with an interactive website, a cool main character, and reality show challenges, participants are engaged. The youth on the show are representative of the viewership and they provide a lot of laughs as they try to overcome the challenges. In no time you find yourself picking a side or person to win and rallying to support their victory. Another positive is that some of the challenges can be done in your own backyard so the learning experience doesn't end with the show. The scientific method is "revamped" to represent goals, brainstorming options, a plan of action, implementing the plan and reviewing it. This is yet another example of how Fetch makes science concepts simple and easy to understand. G Team Central allows children to become part of the experience. They can sign up and track their scores to earn prizes. The games increase in difficulty as children show proficiency at each level. I also particularly like the Daily Challenge which gives a quick trivia question in multiple choice form.

Fetch is truly the best of both worlds as it relates to cost and ease of use. It can literally be used on its own. However, the learning experience can and must be enriched by complementary instruction. In the afterschool setting either the website or the show can be used in small enough "bits" that keep students engaged and learning. If I could recommend anything for Fetch it would be to include some sort of blog/chat/social networking option. This would be a great way to gain feedback on the site as well as increase usage. Fetch is a model to be replicated again and again as it captures youth where they spend the most time; online and watching television.