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RPG Teaches U.S. History to Middle Schoolers

A new online and desktop-based RPG is putting middle schoolers in the role of an escaped teenage slave as she flees to the North and joins up with abolitionists in Ohio.

The game, Flight to Freedom, is set in Kentucky and Ohio in the year 1848. Players take on the role of Lucy King, a 14-year-old plantation slave who decides to escape in order to avoid punishment when she's accused of committing sabotage.

The game is composed of five parts plus an epilogue. In each part, students complete tasks, learn specific concepts related to slavery in the United States in the mid-19th century, and earn badges for successfully reaching goals. It also includes vocabulary and classroom activities, including writing prompts, review questions, and multimedia (such as reproductions of historic documents). Flight to Freedom aligns with National Standards for History Basic Education, Common Core Standards in English/Language Arts, and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills' Framework for 21st Century Learning.

Teacher resources for Flight to Freedom include:

  • A standards alignment guide;
  • Mission at a glance and teacher "cheat sheet";
  • Essential questions;
  • Models for instruction; and
  • A guide to the game's learning goals.

Flight to Freedom is the second in the Mission US series from public television and media provider Thirteen and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Partners on the project include the National Council for the Social Studies, the American Library Association, the American Association of School Librarians, and the Freedom Trail Foundation.

Mission US: Flight to Freedom is available now. The game can be played online through a Web browser. Desktop versions of the game are also available for Mac OS X and Windows systems. Registration is free. Further information can be found on the Mission US site.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .