KHTS’ own Mark Archuleta has won a Los Angeles Area Emmy for his involvement with Math Park, an educational series designed to teach math to elementary school students in second through fifth grade.
Produced by Bob Sharp, a fourth-grade teacher at Lockwood Avenue Elementary in Los Angeles, Math Park has been marketed to school districts in New York, California, Iowa and Oregon, as well as individually to parents. The show also airs on KLCS television, a Los Angeles Unified School District public television station that airs weekly.
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Archuleta is the main actor and host of Math Park. He plays several different characters, each one goofier than the last. His characters include the host, Ranger A. Rith Metic, the ranger of Math Park; a surfer dude who helps kids with greater than and less than signs; Math Dillon, a cowboy who “duels” with kids to see who can get the answer to a math problem faster, and many more.
Along with performing his various roles for the show, Archuleta also worked alongside Sharp throughout the process, helping with the writing and the production.
According to Archuleta, the hardest part of filming was keeping track of his multiple personalities.
“The challenge for me was that for each different character, it was still me each time,” Archuleta said. “I was always trying to figure out ways to wear bigger mustaches or goofier costumes and change the inflection in my voice a little bit so the kids don’t know the characters are the same.”
Archuleta said he and his wife have both been involved in education and, from and educational standpoint, the show provides an effective way to teach kids while keeping the subject matter interesting and entertaining.
“My wife is a teacher and I spent time as a substitute teacher,” Archuleta said. “To get to the kids, you need to be creative. Text can get boring and parts of the show like Math Dillon get kids engaged, although I don’t think they get Gunsmoke reference. The characters are funny and goofy and the video makes learning math a fun experience.”
Math Park is composed of three different series: numeration, multiplication and the most recent, fractions and decimals.
According to Sharp, each of the three is designed to make math fun and interesting for kids.
“I look at a lot of the programs on PBS Kids and they are great programs, but they are not really teaching the depth of content as far as curriculum goes,” Sharp said. “They are competing with commercial TV and, as a result, have lightened up on curriculum. I wanted to make sure the depth was still there in Math Park while presenting it in an entertaining fashion.”
Sharp also said television shows have become an important part of education and his experience as a teacher has proved invaluable to the production of Math Park.
“I think that at this point in time, media is here to stay,” Sharp said. “With Math Park, we are really trying to teach and make it fun and interactive at the same time. As a teacher, I have used this in my own classroom and I can see what tends to work and what doesn’t. Overall, the kids tend to respond really well.”
Receiving the Emmy, according to Sharp, supplements the sense of accomplishment he feels for the success that Math Park has acheived.
“This is like a dream come true for me,” Sharpe said. “I was inspired by educational media in 1965 when I was a third grader. I couldn’t believe TV could be used for something like that. Being recognized by the Academy [of Television Arts and Sciences] is icing on the cake.”
Archuleta echoed this sense of pride and views the award as an acknowledgment for all the time the crew spent to make education entertaining for kids.
“The Emmy validates all the hard work of everybody involved in the project,” Archuleta said. “I really believe in trying to make math fun and the award shows that we accomplished that.”
The LA Area Emmy Awards ceremony will be held Saturday night at the Academy’s Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre, where Math Park and other local television productions will receive recognition for their accomplishments.
Math Park is currently available on DVD and can be purchased from the shows website. The show also airs on KLCS on Mondays at 10:15 a.m.