Now, this word certainly gets thrown around quite a bit, but there is real power in this idea. It combines two beliefs dear to my heart: A) Putting our imaginations into action can create a real transformation in the world around us. B) Grabbing people’s attention (often without them realizing) by using means and methods of entertainment to inform and educate them. People are generally more open and receptive to new ideas when they are being entertained.
It is possible to capture an attentive audience through many different avenues, but ultimately, it is critical to present the information as authentically as possible in exciting and engaging ways. Doing so builds a level of trust with your audience. It is important to not over-sensationalize or embellish the facts but to mine the subject matter, for the amazing stories that truly do exist.
Focusing on play and exploration leads to deeper engagement because guests have the ability to personalize their experience. In location-based entertainment locations, this can often manifest itself in the form of interactive experiences, which allow for many different layers and types of engagement that make a subject matter more accessible through a variety of learning styles. This is beneficial because designers can potentially expand their reach.
By offering a diverse smorgasbord of engaging activities, individuals are able to pick and choose what most appeals to them. They might stay within their comfort zone, or they might take a risk and try something new. Because the level of commitment for an interactive experience is often lower than, say, a lecture or a symposium, doors can be opened to curious guests who aren’t sure how interested they are in a particular subject matter, but are at least willing to dip their toe in.
Throughout our twenty-one-year history, Falcon’s Creative Group has been fortunate to have both entertained and educated guests all over the world. From the very beginning with AT&T’s New Global Neighborhood within EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth to more recent immersive experiences like “Becoming Jane” at the National Geographic Museum, we have developed new methods and revolutionary technologies to entertain and educate guests.
Our latest edutainment project is The Curiosity Playground™, which has been developed in collaboration with some of PBS KIDS most iconic producers. In these immersive brick-and-mortar locations, families will find an amazing selection of activities based on their favorite shows. This beacon of curiosity is anchored in the optimistic spirit and beloved characters of iconic PBS KIDS shows, such as “Elinor Wonders Why™©”, “Odd Squad™©”, “Dinosaur Train®”, “Sid the Science Kid®”, Let’s Go Luna™©, SuperWHY! ®, Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum™© and many more. Here, guests are empowered to explore a wide variety of educational subjects through entertaining means.
Many people are familiar with STEM curricula (science, technology, engineering, and math), which is a cornerstone of education. Building upon that, The Curiosity Playground™ features a host of interactive experiences that fall into categories on what we call the Curiosity Spectrum™. Through the Curiosity Spectrum™, guests can explore a wide range of topics from technology to science to nature to the arts – and learn how they all interconnect.
Our goal is to empower guests to explore subjects that interest them the most at their own pace. Not only are engagement points dispersed across this spectrum of interests, but they’re also built on a tiered system of engagement. The design features experiences that will kick off a curious person’s journey as well as deeper dives into a subject matter that passionate guests will appreciate. Therefore, the introduction to an idea has a low cost of entry (emotionally, intellectually), but opportunities await that may require a bit more time and energy, depending on how far down the rabbit hole guests wish to venture, but in a way that challenges them to “Stay Curious!”
Looking toward the future, there are countless opportunities to connect with audiences. Whether it be through new ways of storytelling or advanced technologies – probably both – the future is bright. One advancement that has immense potential to transform the realm of edutainment is Falcon’s new ÄEONXP™ ecosystem.
Through this proprietary software, guests are armed with a new sense of agency in their educational adventure. Visitors can create customizable user profiles enabling them to track their journey from each interactive experience and even each visit, unlocking new and hyper-personalized content along the way.
Imagine a learning experience that is completely tailored to each individual’s skill and knowledge level and grows with them as they learn. As the visitor completes a variety of interactive learning experiences, they can unlock new levels that build on existing skills and introduce new ideas. The educational experience is no longer “one-size-fits-all” but is tailored to best meet an individual’s specific needs and to give their experience just the right amount of challenge.
Beyond adaptability, another huge way the ÄEONXP™ ecosystem can influence edutainment is through motivation. As guests complete new experiences and learn new skills they can unlock a variety of potential perks such as exclusive merchandise, digital gear and power-ups for their personal profile, discounts on their favorite food, and more through their actions. This deeper level of engagement will create a longer-lasting connection with guests as they unlock all sorts of goodies within their favorite subject matters while also being enticed to explore new areas and ideas.
The ÄEONXP™ ecosystem also gives operators a way to not only energize their traditional brick-and-mortar venues but also allows visitors to continue their learning journey beyond their in-person visit through mobile apps and educational content that is accessible wherever they are. This holistic edutainment experience begins before guests even arrive and continues long after they’ve gone home, enhances their opportunity to connect with a brand in a more meaningful and memorable way.
Regardless of the technology, providing a narrative, story-driven and entertaining experience is the easiest and most surefire way to entice guests to open their minds to new horizons. And, who knows, they may just learn a thing or two on the journey.
Stephen’s well balanced technical and creative skills, developed over years working in theatre, broadcast television, and themed entertainment, allow him to lead all stages of a project, from ideation through opening day.
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