Mission US: Flight to Freedom Launches Today

January 24th, 2012

THIRTEEN announces the launch of Mission US: Flight to Freedom, the second in a series of innovative role-playing games developed to transform the way middle school students learn U.S. history. Timed to support curriculum activities connected to Black History Month in February 2012, Flight to Freedom immerses learners in the experiences of a runaway slave in the years before the Civil War. Educators and students can access the game via streaming and download through any Internet-connected computer, making it accessible in the classroom, the library, school technology lab and at home.

In Flight to Freedom players take on the role of Lucy King, a fictional 14-year-old enslaved in Kentucky in 1848. As they navigate her escape and journey to Ohio via the Underground Railroad, they discover that life in the “free” North is dangerous and difficult. Players encounter a diverse group of people – from abolitionists to slave owners – and make decisions that affect the game’s outcome. Flight to Freedom helps students learn how enslaved people’s choices – from small, everyday acts of resistance to action that sought an end to slavery – affected the lives of individuals, and ultimately the nation.

As students play Flight to Freedom, they build knowledge of the history of slavery and the abolitionist movement. Their understanding and critical perception of the historical context deepens through the accompanying curriculum of activities and by examining a robust collection of primary sources such as maps, posters, runaway ads, slave narratives and other materials. Students also interact with the game’s embedded “Smartwords” to build vocabulary and historical literacy skills.

Flight to Freedom, like all Mission US games, includes a comprehensive collection of resources and materials for educators. These materials include document-based questions, a rich collection of primary sources, activities for individual, small group, and whole class implementation, vocabulary builders, standards alignments, writing prompts and visual aids. Teachers can project content from the game using a variety of technology tools such as interactive whiteboards. The game and supporting materials are free and downloadable for use in classrooms, libraries and homes.

Mission US launched in September of 2010 with its first mission, For Crown or Colony? The next two installments of this ongoing series are planned for release in 2013 and 2014. In Mission 3, The Race for the Golden Spike, players will take on the role of workers helping to build the transcontinental railroad. In Mission 4, The Sidewalks of New York, players will explore early 20th century New York as a muckraking journalist.

Mission US is produced by THIRTEEN in association with WNET and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) with additional support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Sandra Sheppard, THIRTEEN’s director of Children’s and Educational Programming, is the executive-in-charge. Jill Peters serves as executive producer, with Michelle Chen, coordinating producer.