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Mission to Planet 429 Scores High with Underserved Children in Recent Study

Marked improvement in literacy, vocabulary, and basic computer skills seen in elementary school students testing this new interactive educational media game.

For immediate release
- February 4, 2011

MISSION TO PLANET 429, a new educational online game, achieved very positive test results with children aged 8-10 in a recent controlled study conducted by the Michael Cohen Group, LLC. Funded in part by a Ready To Learn grant from the U.S. Department of Education,* the concept is a creation of Roman Coppola (The Directors Bureau) and was developed by WTTW (Chicago Public Media – Television & Interactive) and Nukotoys in partnership with successful school turnaround organization The Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL).

MISSION TO PLANET 429, a fun and engaging 3D browser-based virtual world, is designed specifically for children 6-8 years old, to encourage an interest in informational or academic reading, help them improve their computer literacy and acquire basic 21st century skills. The game, which launched recently on, harnesses the power of technology and children’s natural attraction to gaming platforms to create an engaging educational experience.

In a controlled study conducted over a two-week period last year in California, Connecticut, Illinois and New York, children in 2nd and 3rd grade summer programs who played MP429 daily for a total of 10 hours each gained more than their peers playing games on Discovery Kids on several key assessments:

  • Significant gains in learning content specific vocabulary featured in MP429, including simple machines concepts and process terms from the core curriculum
  • Positive trends (pre- to post-intervention) among children who played MP429 in their interest in informational or academic reading, basic computer literacy and 21st century skills as well as their ratings of the “fun” of the game experience.

Approximately 78% of the children tested were from lower-income families, a group the creators of MISSION TO PLANET 429 were particularly eager to reach. The program was closely monitored by teachers, counselors and parents.

“We are extremely gratified by the results of this study,” said Parke Richeson of WTTW Chicago, co-producer of the game. “Educating children is at the heart of our mission, and we are especially pleased that this program has been proven to help kids in disadvantaged circumstances develop the skills they will need in our modern high-tech world while having fun at the same time,” she added.

“We are excited to add MISSION TO PLANET 429 to our educational games lineup on,” said Sara DeWitt, vice president of PBS KIDS Interactive. “In MISSION TO PLANET 429, kids explore texts and learn how to glean information from them to solve real world problems -- skills that are sometimes difficult to acquire in the classroom.”

About WTTW National Productions

WTTW National Productions is a division of Window to the World Communications, Inc., the parent company of WTTW11 Chicago, the nation’s most-watched public television station. For more than 55 years, WTTW11 and WTTW National Productions have introduced a wide array of groundbreaking television programming -- reflecting the world’s rich and diverse arts and entertainment scene as well as education, politics, public affairs, business, and religion -- to a national audience. Its landmark innovative series and original productions include the critically acclaimed performance showcases Soundstage and Legends of Jazz with Ramsey Lewis, Grannies on Safari, CEO Exchange, David Broza at Masada: The Sunrise Concert, MEXICO – One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless, Retirement Revolution, and the animated children’s series WordWorld. More information about WTTW National Productions is available at

About The Michael Cohen Group

The Michael Cohen Group, LLC (MCG) is an internationally recognized evaluation firm responsible for all formative research and summative testing for the project. The Michael Cohen Group specializes in conducting research with children and youth, their teachers, and their families, addressing all the dimensions of young peoples' lives -- including education, entertainment, health and media -- from various perspectives: students, family members, peers, consumers, and young citizens.

About The Directors Bureau

Founded by producer/director Roman Coppola, The Directors Bureau is a prestigious commercial and music video production company that has garnered numerous awards in both fields and most recently, was cited by Creativity magazine as one of the top production companies of 2007.

About Nukotoys

Nukotoys creates online games and connected toys magically linking virtual and real world adventure. Founded in San Francisco in 2009 for today's digitally sophisticated kids and their engaged parents, Nukotoys strives to be America's next great toy company.

The contents of this release were developed under a grant, #PRU295A050003, from the U.S. Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.