|Type||Curriculum based websites|
|Founder(s)||Tim and Moby|
|Products||BrainPop, BrainPop Jr., BrainPop UK, BrainPop ESL, BrainPop Educators|
BrainPop (styled BrainPOP) is a group of educational websites with over 1,000 short animated movies for students in grades K-12 (ages 6 to 17), together with quizzes, supplemental information and related materials, covering the subjects of science, social studies, English, mathematics, engineering and technology, health, and arts and music. BrainPop is used in more than 25% of U.S. schools and also offers subscriptions for families and homeschoolers. It is also used in schools in Mexico, the UK, Israel, France, Spain and several other countries, where it offers videos in local languages that are designed for students in those countries. BrainPOP is available by subscription but has some free content, including a movie of the day.
Most of the videos feature the characters Tim and Moby. In addition to BrainPop.com for older children, there is BrainPop Jr. for younger children (grades K-3), BrainPop Español, BrainPop Français, BrainPop UK, BrainPop ESL for non-native speakers learning English, and BrainPop Educators, a free site for teachers. The sites are owned by FWD Media, Inc. and its affiliates, based in New York.
Description of the sites
History and products
Founded in 1999, the BrainPop websites display animated, curriculum-based content that supports educators and are intended to be fun and motivational for students to watch. The sites' movies cover the subjects of science, social studies, English, mathematics, engineering & technology, health, and arts and music. Since 2007, the movies have been closed captioned. BrainPop is used in more than 25% of U.S. schools. The company was founded in 1997 by Avraham Kadar, M.D., an immunologist and pediatrician, to explain medical concepts to his young patients using animation. As of 2011, BrainPop hosted more than 11 million unique visits each month, from thousands of schools and individuals worldwide. BrainPop uses an in-house team of educators, animators, and writers to produce and continually update the sites, incorporating teacher and parent input.
The online resources include BrainPop.com, for grades 3 and up (over age 9) and BrainPop Jr., for grades K-3 (ages 5 to 9). The sites also offer movies in three different languages for regional markets: BrainPop Español for Spanish-speakers, BrainPop Francais (French) and BrainPop UK (English with UK-centered topics) aligned to local educational standards. The site's free resource for teachers and home schoolers, BrainPop Educators, features free tips, tools and best practices by and for teachers and homeschoolers. In 2009, BrainPop introduced BrainPop ESL, targeted at students learning English as a second language. Schools and parents can use the site to help shape the student's curriculum. BrainPOP's free GameUp website contains online games from third-party game publishers that coordinate with the BrainPop, BrainPop Jr. and BrainPop ESL curricula.
BrainPop movies may be used to introduce a new lesson or topic, for illustrating complex subject matter or to review before a test. Content is aligned to USA state education standards and is searchable by topic or state standard. In addition to movies, the site displays quizzes, games, experiments and other related content that students can use interactively to reinforce the lessons in the movies. BrainPop products are compatible with PCs, Macs, projectors and interactive whiteboards. No downloading, installation or special hardware is required. There are also applications for the iPad and smartphones. The movies feature recurring characters such as Tim, Moby and Annie. Most of the movies begin with the characters responding to correspondence and end humorously, often with Tim getting annoyed at Moby or vice versa.
2013 Common Sense Media ON for Learning Award (BrainPOP Jr.); 2013 KAPi Award for Best Educational Technology (GameUp); Apps for Homeschooling's Reader's Choice Award 2012 (Featured Movie App); Tech & Learning Magazine Award of Excellence 2012 (GameUp); 2012 International Serious Play Award; 2012 CODiE Award for Best Educational Use of a Mobile Device (Featured Movie App); 2012 International Serious Play Award Gold Medal; Learning Magazine 2012, 2011 (BrainPop) and 2010 (BrainPop Jr.) Teacher's Choice Awards; a 2012 eSchool News Readers' Choice Award, Tech & Learning Magazine Award of Excellence, 2012 (GameUp), 2011, 2009 and 2007; 2010 Association of Educational Publishers' Distinguished Achievement Awards (BrainPop Educators and BrainPop ESL); District Administration Readers' Choice Top 100 Products of 2010; Homeschool.com's Top 100 Educational Websites for 2009, 2008 and 2005; Apple Education: Recommended Curriculum Collections; Interactive Media Awards: Best in Class, 2010, 2009 and 2007 and Outstanding Achievement, 2008; Association for Library Service to Children: Great Web Sites for Kids, 2006; Association of Educational Publishers: Distinguished Achievement Award, 2005; Media & Methods: Awards Portfolio Winner, 2005; Forbes Magazine: Best of the Web, 2004, 2002 and 2001. A 2009 multi-grade study by SEG research, entitled "A Study of the Effectiveness of BrainPop", involved over 1,000 students in schools in Palm Beach County, Florida and New York City. The BrainPop-financed study concluded, "Students in classes using BrainPop made significant improvements compared to students in classes not using BrainPop."
Reviews for the websites and movies have been favorable. A review in Common Sense Media commented: "BrainPOP is a standard-bearer for quality, self-directed online educational content. ... A year's subscription is worth it because there's at least a year's worth of content for a kid to explore on BrainPOP." A review in The Reading Matrix stated:
- These presentations provide meaningful, standard-driven instruction and assessment [due] to the exceptional quality. ... One of the best features that teachers like about BrainPop is its ease of use. ... [T]he layout, webinars, and free tutorials make navigating through the tremendous amount of information a cinch. ... [A] State Standards Tool ... allows educators to search their state standards in order to fit different activities with appropriate standards. ... [The] interactive characters ... help explain concepts, design experiments, and show students how to acquire a particular skill or use the information given. ... Tim and Moby have personalities of their own and are relatable, trustworthy friends to their viewers. ... [the] site allows students to teach themselves.
Schools recommend the product. A teacher wrote to eSchool News, "This product has made my students excited to take the quiz after the video. How many teachers can say that about their students?" Praising a BrainPop video about Ada Lovelace, Wired magazine wrote, "After reading more about her life and her work, I still feel it is best summarized by BrainPop’s Ada Lovelace video, which is designed for kids." Another reviewer felt that a good feature of BrainPop's movies is their brevity: "just enough to capture and engage children."
The educational site connexions.org wrote: "I recommend this site to teachers who want to inform and entertain their students. The videos are a unique educational tool with loveable characters. ... BrainPop will not only enliven the classroom, but the site is dependable with lessons following state and grade-level standards." Teach Magazine noted, "Tim and Moby ... illustrate often difficult concepts in a fun format uniquely suited for the 21st-century learner." In 2010, The New York Times wrote of the company's iPhone application: "BrainPop is a worthy app, featuring a new brief educational cartoon every day. The cartoon is followed by a quick quiz that will at times challenge even a grown-up." The Epoch Times featured the application as its "iPhone App of the Week" and called the movies "usually funny, if somewhat corny, and always engaging". In 2011, Canada's TEACH Magazine wrote that the movies are presented "in a fun format uniquely suited for the 21st-century learner. ... BrainPop movies are ideal for both group and one-on-one settings and can be used to introduce new lessons or topics or to illustrate complex themes as review before a test. In 2012, the Explore Knowledge Academy, the first public charter i-school in Nevada, recommended BrainPop's iPad application.
Tim and Moby are the main characters in most BrainPop movies.
Tim is a teenager who does most of the talking in the movies and understands what Moby says. The design on his shirt usually matches the topic being covered. At the beginning of each video, Tim reads a letter from a student asking about the topic. Often at the end of the movies, Moby will get Tim in trouble, or vice versa. He is voiced by Kevin Lo.
Moby is an orange robot who communicates in beeping noises. The three blue lights on his chest flashes up when he beeps, and Tim usually translates what he's saying. Moby is Tim's friend but loves to drive him crazy. Moby helps out by fetching things for Tim and asking questions about the topic they are discussing. As a robot, he can do things that people are unable to do, such as changing his hand into a freeze-ray, sending himself back in time, throwing garbage into a black hole in space, removing his head, and using lasers. Some of the movies, such as the Earth, Radar, Milky Way and Writing Process videos, imply that Moby is of an extraterrestrial origin. However, the Leonardo da Vinci movie implies that he was invented by da Vinci.
Cassie and Rita are two teenage girls, who are best friends and are mainly featured in comics that accompany many of the movies in the "FYI" section. They also occasionally appear in the main movies and even narrate a few of them. Rita tends to be more composed and intelligent, while Cassie tends to be more absent-minded. Like Moby, Cassie enjoys annoying Tim, while some of the movies imply that Rita has a romantic interest in Tim and that he returns her feelings.
Bob is a rat with a broken tail and a patched chest. He is featured in, and often conducts, experiments called "Experiments with Bob the Ex-Lab Rat", which relate to mostly science movies.
Gary and gary are a father and son featured in comics called "How To With Gary and gary", which show how to do something safely. The capitalized "Gary" is the father, and the lowercase "gary" is the son.
Tim has a dog named Sadie, a toad named Toady, and a fish named Ewan. Rita has a cat named Pickle.
BrainPop Jr. was introduced in 2006. It is similar to BrainPop in subject areas, but the movies are geared towards grades K-3 (age 4-9). They star a little girl named Annie and Moby from the regular BrainPOP. Like the regular BrainPOP, the site offers a free "Movie of the Week", as well as several free movies in the different curricular areas.
Characters in BrainPop Jr.
Annie is a young girl who narrates the movies. She wears red framed glasses and also works with Moby. She has an older sister named Mia who talks on the cell phone too much, is allergic to dust and gets angry when Annie says something embarrassing about her. There are many hints in BrainPop Jr. that Annie is Mexican. For instance, her dog's name is Señor Maurice, and she sometimes refers to her father as "papi".
In BrainPop Jr, Moby shows his emotions more often, like crying or getting excited. Moby is more kind-hearted in BrainPop Jr. than in BrainPop. He can also do things the other Moby can't do, like sneeze, sweat, and drink things, like water. He can also be sick and smell flowers.
Frank and Joey are two fish that star in the comic strip "Belly Up."
BrainPop Educators, BrainPop ESL and GameUp
BrainPop Educators was introduced in 2008. It is an online community of 125,000 teachers, and parents who use BrainPop. This free site offers answer keys to activity pages, graphic organizers, professional development materials, posters, clipart and other resources for educators. It also allows educators to collaborate and share resources, such as lesson plans, organizers and activities for students. The site also offers video tutorials and webinars.
BrainPop ESL (English as a second language) is a website launched in 2009 that displays animated videos providing grammar and vocabulary instruction and interactive exercises for non-native English speakers of all ages. Each video contains an animated story, an introduction to new vocabulary, and an illustration of relevant grammar topics. The narrator is a boy named Ben, who is accompanied by Moby the robot. The videos provide a series of increasingly challenging contextualized language and content exercises for English learners, starting with beginner levels and progressing to advanced levels. Students may select review activities, such as “Words, Words, Words”, a vocabulary exercise that uses flashcards and includes a pronunciation guide; "Hear it, Say it", to reinforce vocabulary and speaking; "Read it", for reading comprehension; and "Write it", for writing practice. There are also games and quizzes to review ideas from the videos. Internet-based websites have been shown to be useful tools to supplement in-class instruction for ESL students.
In 2011, BrainPop launched its educational games site, GameUp, which contains a collection of free online games from third-party game publishers that help teach a variety of subjects and coordinate with the BrainPop, BrainPop Junior and BrainPop ESL curricula. BrainPop partners with developer organizations and community developers to continually expand and improve the site's content and align the games with academic standards. The site also aims to help teachers use educational games in the classroom to engage and motivate students. It is supported by BrainPop Educators. New Media Consortium wrote: "GameUp features top online educational gaming titles as well as support and supplementary materials to educators. GameUp titles come from an impressive collection of organizations such as Nobelprize.org®, iCivics, JASON Project, Mangahigh, and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, to name a few. Edutopia, among other review sites, recommends GameUp.
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- See also Rosen, Yigal (Faculty of Education, University of Haifa). (2009). "The effects of an animation-based on-line learning environment on transfer of knowledge and on motivation for science and technology learning", Journal of Educational Computing Research, Vol. 40(4) pp. 451–467
- Villamagna, Dana. "BrainPOP", Common Sense Media, November 13, 2012; Villamagna, Dana. "BrainPOP, Jr.", Common Sense Media, August 30, 2012
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- See also this 2009 review and following comments at the Educational Technology Weblog.
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