Nickelodeon, the leading children’s entertainment brand in the United States, recently announced a new interactive learning platform that would allow users to enjoy a virtual field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The world-famous gallery located in New York City is now accessible via Noggin, a personalised, interactive online learning platform aimed at children from two to seven years of age. Noggin has many games and activities that children can learn from already. The latest addition, known as Bubble Guppies: Dive into The Met, is the most recent one to have been added to the Noggin platform.
According to Nickelodeon, the game has been designed to spark creativity and to promote interest in art by allowing subscribers to take a virtual tour around the Met. Importantly, the game’s designers claim that American children will be able to explore art from cultures and countries outside of the USA. The game promotes creative thinking but also asks children to apply their critical analysis skills as they make progress, according to the entertainment brand. Indeed, the new online offering has been designed to align closely with Noggin’s learning framework, one that is based on a uniform set of educational standards across its many games and activities. The Met-based game is, however, an initial release from Nickelodeon’s early learning programme, one that it has sought to expand greatly in the last year. As such, this release is part of Nickelodeon Big Hearts, Mighty Minds, Healthy Heroes and Brave Explorers programme for early years education.
Specifically, this game is designed to help younger learners spot the characteristics of each work of art they see on the platform that make them distinctive. This is information that the game’s design team have garnered in consultation with curators and educational staff who currently work at the Met. However, the game doesn’t just focus on artistic expression and painterly techniques because it also asks children to think more conceptually and to examine art appreciation through art history, too. In addition, children are encouraged to create their own works of art based on what they have seen and learned about on their virtual tour. This necessarily also involves some decision-making because children are given a set of digital tools to either curate or customise art that they have created themselves.
One of the key aspects of Bubble Guppies: Dive into The Met is that it makes as much leverage of the involvement of the Met as possible, not just the images available from within its large collection. As such, the game is available on Noggin as well as via the Met’s own website, too. Whichever host platform is used, the main character in the game, Mr Grouper, takes a group of Bubble Guppies to New York on a field trip to study works of art at the Met. The artworks chosen originate from Ancient Egypt, France, India, Japan and the Netherlands. Either studying them solo or alongside parents and teachers, young learners use the game’s content to discover more about the diverse styles of each piece and to contextualise them within their given time periods and geography.
One work by August Renoir features prominently, Madame Georges Charpentier and Her Children, Georgette-Berthe and Paul-Émile-Charles. The Ancient Egyptian artwork is Stela of Aafenmut which originated in Thebes sometime around 900 BCE. A Goldsmith in his Shop by Petrus Christus, Children Playing in the Snow Under Plum Trees in Bloom by Yoshu Hashimoto Chikanobu and The King Travels to His Sons’ Weddings by Bahu Masters are the other pieces that have been selected for the game.
Given that the Met has so much art collected from around the world, choosing just five images to represent to the totality of global art cannot have been an easy decision. At the moment, it is not yet known whether Noggin will add further images to the game. However, Noggin has announced further content for early learners is on its way in the fields of maths, literacy, science and art. As such, further content could be added down the line.
About the author – Manuel Charr
Manuel Charr is a journalist working in the arts and cultural sectors. With a background in marketing, Manuel is drawn to arts organizations which are prepared to try inventive ways to reach new audiences.