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.

July 2015 Family Choice

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

Wednesday, July 1st at 7:00 pm: Operation Wild #1
This three-part BBC co-production series explores the pioneering work of vets around the world as they use cutting-edge techniques to try and save the lives of wild animals.In the first program, learn whether an ingenious idea could help save giant pandas, and if an operation deep in the jungle can transform the life of a young gorilla. Watch as an elephant with a gunshot wound makes an extraordinary journey.

Saturday, July 4 at 7pm: Capitol Fourth
Celebrate the country’s 239th birthday with an all-star musical extravaganza and the greatest display of fireworks anywhere in the nation. America’s favorite Independence Day celebration is broadcast live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

Wednesday, July 8th at 7pm: Operation Wild #2
In the second program, find out how pioneering medicine is transforming ways to tend to animals. See a rhino’s groundbreaking skin graft after poachers stole her horns and an orangutan’s micro-surgery to try to restore her sight – and her freedom.

Wednesday, July 15th at 7 pm: Operation Wild #3
In the final program, witness extreme dentistry on a five-ton elephant and keyhole surgery on a giant tortoise. Find out if a remarkable invention can help a dolphin swim again.



Curious George Photo App

Curious George 3 - Image 3

To celebrate the release of the Curious George 3 movie where your favorite monkey explores space and Africa, there’s a new free photo app that lets you add George into your photos! Participate at and share the fun with friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtag #CuriousGeorge.

Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle premieres on Monday, August 17 on KLRU-TV at 9:30am and 3:30pm. An encore presentation of Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey will air right before the new movie at 8am and 2pm.

Super Photo Bomb. Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle

KLRU and Austin Public Libraries Launch 2015 Summer Reading Program

Families enjoying the activities at the Summer Reading Program launch.

Families enjoying the activities at the Summer Reading Program launch.

KLRU and the Austin Public Libraries launched their Summer Reading Program for the families in the Austin area on May 30, 2015 at Ruiz Public Library. Families were encouraged to attend and enjoy storytelling, balloon art, puppet shows and pick up their summer reading log.  Just by attending, all children were able to take home a book of their own. KLRU helped inform parents about Smart Screen Time and the use of as the “go to” location for their child’s entertainment during the hot summer days. is a safe, fun and educational tool that parents can rely on.  Kart Kingdom game launch was also a fun start to the summer. KLRU will be working with their partners and summer programs to promote the Summer Reading Program.


June 2015 Family Choice

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

Wednesday, June 3 at 7:00 pm: NATURE “White Lions”
This is the story of two remarkable and extremely rare white lion cubs on their journey to adulthood. Both are female, sisters born as white as snow in May 2009, in South Africa’s Kruger Park. Growing up on the savanna, they must not only overcome the same survival challenges that all young lion cubs must face, they must also overcome the threats their high visibility brings.

Wednesday, June 17 at 7:00 pm: NATURE “Funkiest Monkeys”
Twenty-five years ago, filmmaker Colin Stafford-Johnson traveled to Sulawesi in Indonesia and fell in love with crested black macaques. These feisty monkeys are beach bums with punk hairstyles, expressive faces, copper colored eyes and some very unusual habits, making them some of the most charismatic of all monkeys. Learning that their numbers have dropped dramatically, he makes a return visit to find out why and to see if he can help.

Tuesday, June 30 at 7:00 pm: Mount Rushmore: American Experience
High on a granite cliff in South Dakota’s Black Hills tower the huge carved faces of four American presidents. Together they constitute the world’s largest sculpture. The massive tableau inspires awe and bemusement. How, and when, was it carved? Who possessed the audacity to create such a gargantuan work? The story of Mount Rushmore’s creation is as bizarre and wonderful as the monument itself.

Here For Each Other: Floods Family Guide


In response to the flooding in the Central Texas area over the Memorial Day weekend, KLRU would like to let the community know about the Sesame Street resource Here For Each Other: Floods Family Guide that is available in both English and Spanish.  All of the Here For Each Other materials can be found at

KLRU announces local 2015 PBS Kids Writers Contest Winners

writers contest 2015

Today, KLRU announced the local winners of the 2015 PBS KIDS Writers Contest. The first place winners in grades K-3 will advance to the national level of the contest. Over 190 creative entries were received from local children and 13 winners were chosen for first place, second place, and third place recognitions:




“At KLRU we were truly inspired by the enthusiasm and talent that this year’s contest entries demonstrated,” said Ben Kramer, Director of KLRU’s Educational Services Department. “Each year KLRU is a proud participant in PBS KIDS’ annual Writers Contest as it advances KLRU’s commitment to helping grow children’s literacy skills while encouraging expression and imagination. KLRU celebrates the talented children of our community and we wish the winners advancing to the national contest the best of luck.”

You can read all stories submitted in the KLRU area

The annual PBS KIDS Writers Contest is a national initiative designed to promote the advancement of children’s literacy skills through hands-on, active learning. The contest encourages children in grades K-3 to celebrate creativity by submitting their own original stories and illustrations.

KLRU’s first place winners will advance to the national contest and a panel of some of America’s foremost children’s authors, illustrators and media creators will serve as honorary judges and rank the top 12 finalists. National winners will be announced this summer and the winning stories will be featured on

The national winners will receive prize packages including a library of ARTHUR® books by best-selling children’s author, Marc Brown, courtesy of national prizing sponsor, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and a personal technology device courtesy of PBS. The PBS KIDS Writers Contest is produced by PBS and based on the Reading Rainbow® Young Writers and Illustrators Contest, a concept developed by WNED-TV, Buffalo.

To learn more about the contest, visit