“We want people in the Lower 48… to learn about Alaskans,” says one Nome 6th grader when talking about a new mobile phone application he and his friends are designing with Park Ranger Lupe Zaragoza. The National Park Service is partnering with Nome youngsters to create a game “app” that introduces users to the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. The preserve is one of the least-visited and most difficult to access in the nation.
The Park Service hopes their new app will bring the wonders of the park to those who wouldn’t be able to access it because of its remote location and geography. The children are helping to infuse local creativity, fun, and cultural/regional authenticity into the process. Zaragoza says the collaboration is symbiotic: “The benefit for the kids is awesome, too; they’re definitely exploring storytelling ideas. And who gets to design an app whey they’re in sixth grade? I think the opportunity, in itself, is pretty magical.”
The collaborative work was recently showcased in February’s Dearest Alaska “audio postcard” program by producer Karen Trop.
January’s edition highlighted an afternoon rehearsal for the village of Stebbins middle school’s cheerleading team. The children explained the difference between chants, cheers, and routines. The cheers, as the coach explained to KNOM, can be a source of cultural pride and storytelling for the community — and a source of great fun. Said one student, “It makes me feel happy.”