Green School Carnival $500 Scholarship – Apply Now!

In Spring 2015, KLRU-TV, Austin PBS worked with Campbell Elementary of Austin ISD, the Austin ISD Sustainability Program and Keep Austin Beautiful to create a “Green” school carnival. Funds to support these efforts came from a PBS Kids Explore the Outdoors grant. Using remaining funds from the grant, we would like to help three schools interested in putting on their own “green” carnival this fall with three $500 grant opportunities. Watch the video for a glimpse of what Campbell did, then think about what you can do to “green up” your carnival. Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Whether you receive a grant or not, consider contacting Keep Austin Beautiful for free resources and activities.

Go to the application here

Teacher Tools in PBS LearningMedia!


PBS LearningMedia teacher tools also known as “Productivity Tools” are helping educators integrate digital media into learning by creating personalized learning experiences for students. Included in these teacher tools are the Lesson Builder, Quiz Maker, Storyboard, and Puzzle Builder.  Use these tools to enhance teaching and learning in your classroom.

How Teachers Use Tools to Engage with Students

  1. Lesson Builder- A fast way to create and assign interactive lesson plans for students.
  2. Quiz Maker-  Create quizzes and quick assessments.
  3. Storyboards-  Illustrate a concept or topic through a collection of PBS videos, your own uploaded videos,  text and images. Also create a class storyboard or assign students the task of creating a storyboard.
  4. Puzzle Builder- Create puzzles including both crossword puzzles and word searches.

Share Content You Have Created

With PBS LearningMedia, share content on the site in just a few easy steps. The lessons and storyboards that educators create and make public are now searchable and can be found by performing a keyword search and using the search bar.  Click the “Include Teacher-Built Resources” checkbox at the top of the search results in order to display all shared lessons and storyboards.

Storyboard and Lesson Examples

  1.  Hummingbird Super Powers! A storyboard about hummingbirds, featuring videos and fun facts for students.
  2. Shaking Things Up: A storyboard about earthquakes with videos and room for facts!
  3. Cubes: A storyboard with videos and examples of cubes.
  4. Ocean Life: A storyboard filled with marine life fun facts and videos.
  5. Digital and Mobile Art: A storyboard filled with videos from a KQED curated collection that provides background information about digital artists and highlights art made using apps, computer graphics and other digital tools.

Register for a free PBS LearningMedia account to quickly create your own media rich lessons and storyboards with PBS LearningMedia tools for teachers. 

(with permission from KQED)

October 2015 Family Choice


KLRU chooses three to four programs each month for your family to enjoy and view together. In September 2015, we have the following lined up:

Wednesday, October 7 at 7 pm: NATURE: Big Birds Can’t Fly
This is the unique story of flightless birds. They say a bird is three things — feathers, flight and song. But what happens when you’re a bird who can’t fly, who can’t sing and whose feathers are closer to fluff? Is this an evolutionary joke?

Pets - Wild at Heart.  Episode 1 - Playful Creatures.

Wednesday, October 21 at 7 pm: NATURE: Pets: Wild at Heart
(part one of a two-part miniseries)
Episode 1: Playful Creatures
In this astonishing program filled with innovative photography and scientific revelation, we investigate how our favorite pets get in touch with their wild side through play. From talkative budgies, marathon-running hamsters, wall-climbing cats and diving dogs, as well as an island where rabbits rule and a city where dogs live a secret double life – discover how our pets’ playful games are just a whisker away from the wild.

Wednesday, October 28 at 7 pm: NATURE: Pets: Wild at Heart
(part two of a two-part miniseries)
Episode 2: Secretive Creatures
In a program packed with incredible filming techniques, from Schlieren photography that makes smells visible, to moving X-rays, ultra slow-motion, and ultraviolet vision as well as HD horsecams and doggycams, discover how our pets experience the world through their astonishing senses and hidden channels of communication. This episode includes the sensory secrets of budgies, horses, guinea pigs and goldfish as well as the remarkable abilities of hamsters…

Wild Kratts Live! 1/23

Wild Kratts

You gotta be squidding me! The wildly popular PBS Kids show Wild Kratts is coming to the University of Texas’ Bass Concert Hall January 23 for Wild Kratts Live!

Emmy-nominated brothers Chris and Martin Kratt, the creative team behind Wild Kratts, Kratt’s Creatures, Be the Creature and Zooboomafoo, create a special live-action adventure specifically for stage on their national tour. Martin and Chris “come to real life” in a classic Wild Kratts story. In “To the Creature Rescue!”, the Kratt Brothers activate some fan favorite Creature Power Suits to confront a comic villain and save the animals of the creature world. The Kratts’ animated adventures on TV combine zany zoological fun with lessons about science.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at 512-477-6060 or on Texas Performing Arts Website.

September 2015 Family Choice

KLRU chooses three to four programs each month for your family to enjoy and view together. In September 2015, we have the following lined up:

Tuesday, Wednesday, September 1-2 at 7:00 pm: BIG BLUE LIVE
Scientists, filmmakers and photographers, animal behaviorists and other experts will come together to document the extraordinary rejuvenation of the once endangered and now thriving ecosystem of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in California. Some of the world’s most charismatic marine creatures — humpback whales, blue whales, sea lions, dolphins, elephant seals, sea otters, great white sharks, shearwaters and brown pelicans — convene in this once-a-year confluence.

Wednesday, September 2 at 8:00 pm: NOVA “Bigger Than T. Rex”
NOVA joins paleontologist Paul Sereno on the trail of Spinosaurus — the biggest and most fearsome predator of all time.

Tuesday, September 15 at 7:00 pm: IN THEIR OWN WORDS “Jim Henson”
This film follows Jim Henson’s career from his first work with the Muppets in the early 1950s during television’s Golden Age up to his sudden and shocking death in 1990, as he transcended puppetry to become one of the most creative, prolific and influential artists of his time.

Wednesday, September 23 at 7:00 pm: NATURE “Nature’s Miracle Orphans: Second Chances”
Growing up in the wild is always rough – and young animals rely on their parents to protect and nurture them through the dangerous early phase of life. But how do young animals survive when they’ve lost their mothers? This heartwarming and emotional series follows the work of animal rescue centers around the world and introduces the extraordinary people who have devoted their lives to helping all sorts of wild orphans get back on their feet.

KLRU Education travels to the White House to share work on Play to Learn™

On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, KLRU took part in a White House convening around the ConnectHome initiative, the plan to provide low-cost/free high-speed connectivity in over 275,000 low-income residences across the US and on tribal lands. Austin has been selected as the mentor city for the project due to collaborations including the City of Austin, HACA, Google, Austin FreeNet, United Way for Greater Austin, and KLRU, among others.

KLRU’s role in the panel was to share our work on Play to Learn™, the United Way-led initiative that brings parents and youth ages 2-4 together for a variety of fun learning activities, including the use of digital tablets. Throughout the ten-week program, the families take home books and learning materials and upon successful completion of the program, they take home a digital tablet loaded with educational apps for the whole family. We utilize PBS resources to illuminate at-home learning experiences, including video from PBS Kids, apps like PBS Parents Play and Learn and Daniel Tiger’s Day and Night, and KLRU’s own Smart Screen Time®/La Pantalla Inteligente messaging. Play to Learn™ is a powerful example of the kinds of programs that can occur once a low-income community gets reliable and affordable access to the Internet.


Oddness Abounds in the Odd Squad Camp!

2015-07-21 11.21.28

KLRU and the Boys & Girls Club (B&GC) located at the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA) Meadowbrook site enjoyed a week of oddness only available through the Odd Squad Camp.

The B&GC campers, who were between the ages of 5 and 9, enjoyed taking on the mantle of “agent” to help solve five cases where a case was introduced one day at a time.  The agents had to figure out their agent code and wear their official badge while they trained to become “ace” agents. Solving the case as a team and making gadgets to help solve a math problem were the main activities.  Videos, digital adventures and problem solving were also part of this half-day camp but most of all having FUN was a requirement.

August 2015 Family Choice

KLRU chooses three to four programs each month for your family to enjoy and view together. In August 2015, we have the following lined up:

Wednesday, August 5 at 7:00 pm (conclusion): Life on the Reef #103
See how the human and animal residents of the reef prepare for a category five cyclone that brings destruction to the North Queensland coast. As cyclone season finally gives way to calm seas of the dry, the reef begins to recover and thrive.

Wednesday, August 12 at 7:00 pm: NATURE “My Bionic Pet”
The animals of the world may increasingly need our help with big issues like preserving habitat or species conservation. But sometimes individual animals need our help as well. Left disabled without fins, flippers, beaks or tails because of disease, accidents or even human cruelty, these unfortunate creatures need what amounts to a miracle if they are to survive. Luckily for them, sometimes miracles do happen. Amazing prosthetics made possible by the latest engineering and technology are able to provide just what they need. And scientists are finding that innovations created in the process are benefitting both animals and humans.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, August 31, September 1-2 at 7:00 pm:

Scientists, filmmakers and photographers, animal behaviorists and other experts will come together to document the extraordinary rejuvenation of the once endangered and now thriving ecosystem of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in California. Some of the world’s most charismatic marine creatures — humpback whales, blue whales, sea lions, dolphins, elephant seals, sea otters, great white sharks, shearwaters and brown pelicans — convene in this once-a-year confluence.

KLRU Summer STEM Resources


KLRU is a proud partner of many summer STEM camp providers in Central Texas. We have built this collection of PBS and other amazing and fun resources for participants in these camps and for anyone to use!

Audiovisual and interactive resources available through PBS MediaLearning site:

Web platforms and interactive games outside PBS that can be used in learning activities:

Software resources outside PBS that can be downloaded and installed on local computers:


With a month left of summer, teach your kids ‘Smart Screen Time’


With just a month left before classes start for Austin-area school districts, and as temperatures rise in Central Texas, it’s important to make sure the time your kids spend in front of their screens is educational and constructive.

ben&cookieBen Kramer, vice president of education for KLRU, started the Smart Screen Time initiative two years ago to develop a set of guidelines for digital media use for children, parents, educators and caretakers. We sat down with Ben to talk about the program and what parents can do with only one month of summer left for many kids.

Download a printable version of the Smart Screen Time guide (pdf): Smart Screen Time™ | La Pantalla Inteligente™ To watch Smart Screen Time videos in Spanish and English, click here.


Where did the idea for Smart Screen Time come along and what were the original goals of the project?

The idea first came along because we were starting to get questions about how much screen time is safe for kids, and it turned out to be a much more complicated answer than just a set time limit. In the meantime, what was happening is that in our own outside world, the use of screens was exploding, particularly with kids. Because as tablet computers became more and more prevalent, younger and younger kids could manipulate them in ways that they couldn’t do with keyboards or even with smartphones. The tablets really did make a huge difference for these littlest kids.

So, we embarked on some kind of messaging campaign – we are perhaps the only media company in families’ lives that will actually tell them to turn us off. We know that our educational goals for our programs and our apps and all the work that we do isn’t really complete until the kids can actually do things with what they’ve picked up from the programs or games, like read or solve problems. That was the genesis of it, and what we’ve found is that it’s just really resonated with all walks of life. Everyone you talk to has at least some concern about the amount of screen time that kids are getting in their lives, and what it might mean for their development. So, we wanted to come at it in a way of saying, “We’re a media company, so we’re in the midst of it, we produce, we make stuff, but here’s when you know when it’s too much.” We want to shift the question from a simple quantity question to a more quality question, and that’s how Smart Screen Time came up.

We say that kids know instinctively when screen time is smart and when it’s silly. When it’s provoking their thinking, or when it’s just pure entertainment. And we all have time in our lives where we just want pure entertainment. We all have our trash TV moments, we all have our silly movie moments, we all have our stupid game moments, we have all that, so it would be foolhardy to go to kids and say, “No, we only want your screen time to be smart.” That’s not the lives that we as adults lead. So instead, we think of much more realistic and beneficial conversation among families is, “Well, what’s our family balance between smart and silly?”

Many similar campaigns simply tell parents how much to limit their children’s social media use. Why encourage the parents to use screens along with their children?

It’s the same sort of carryover that you would have if a parent is doing a hands-on activity with a kid, or if they’re reading a book with a kid. The three-way interaction of parent and kid and learning event, be it a book or a tablet or a program, is amplified when the discussion occurs. It really helps solidify learning. So the tendency is for kids to just wander off and do their own thing with the screen, and without this injection of saying talking actually solidifies the learning, and it doesn’t have to be talking right there in the moment, it can be after the fact, we lose this opportunity because it’s too easy for kids to go off and have their screen lives, so we want to bring adults back into this triad.

With only one month left of summer, what can parents do now to help their kids be successful when it comes to using screens efficiently?

The last month is critical, because first of all, the temperature has gone way up, so these kids are going to be spending more time indoors. Secondly, kids are going to be more bored during the summer. Thirdly, the more schools turn to tablets and chrome books and whatever for the main delivery of their resources, our messaging really doesn’t change as we get to the end of summer and into the fall again. The key is to have an honest and open dialogue with your kids and to reach some decisions that all of you can be comfortable with, not just adult dictating to kid, but what screen practices are you going to uphold in your home that apply to everyone? Including the balance of smart and silly, including the determination when somebody in the home becomes a screen zombie, that some decision has to happen at that moment, and that decision is either get active and do something else or go to bed, that’s it. There’s no wiggle room. These problems are not going to go away at the end of summer.

What other resources do you have for parents who want to help their children use screens in a smarter way?

We’ve tried to build KLRU Kids as a safe browsing experience for kids to find stuff they’re interested in. On that, we have a set of screenshots of all the apps we put on our machines, our iPads, so that folks can get a glimpse of what we recommend online through the website itself but then within the website there’s the recommended apps button which will give the list of things we recommend for tablets.