WPT Education has released a new online video game, “Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case,” that encourages students to experience history as they discover it for themselves. Submitted
WPT Education has released a new online video game, “Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case,” that encourages students to experience history as they discover it for themselves. Submitted

Submitted by Alyssa Tsagong, WPT Director of Education

MADISON, WI – After collaborating with educators and students from across Wisconsin, Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) Education has released a new online video game, “Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case,” that encourages students to experience history as they discover it for themselves. The game is now available to play online for free at WPTeducation.org. George Klink, a fifth-grade classroom teacher at Elmwood Elementary School in Elmwood, along with a number of his students, contributed to the development and testing of the fun and engaging new online video game, “Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case,” released on Wednesday, Oct. 10 by WPT Education.

“Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case,” set in and around the Wisconsin State Capitol, assists educators in teaching history while engaging students as “history detectives” to immerse them in the action. It is a tool for students to engage in critical thinking and historical inquiry. The game was produced by WPT Education and Field Day Lab, an educational game developer within the University Wisconsin-Madison’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER), along with a cohort of teachers and students from around the state.

Designed to address Wisconsin Academic Standards for grades three through five in social studies, English language arts and information & technology literacy, players use detective skills to solve mysteries about real artifacts from Wisconsin’s history and use evidence to prove their discoveries. As the plot unfolds, players discover primary source materials. Then, like real historians, players engage in investigation, identification, corroboration and contextualization of evidence with their primary sources. To win each challenge, players must summarize the evidence and argue their case. 

“The collaborative design process that brought teachers, historians, game developers and public media together has led to a playful entry point for students into the process historians follow,” says Alyssa Tsagong, WPT’s Director of Education. “We know that “Jo Wilder and the Capitol Case” will be used alongside other WPT Education local history classroom resources, drawing on the rich stories of our state to spark the kind of curiosity and engagement that will lead to authentic learning experiences.”

Teachers involved in the game’s creation have praised the ways that both the design process and the finished product have inspired their students.

"The experience of having a window into the game production process has been incredible for my students,” says Mike Scoville a K-12 Library Media Specialist in the Gibraltar Area School District. “As we play-tested each version, we saw how WPT and Field Day incorporated students’ suggestions into the game.”

The project was made possible by generous funding from several sources including the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

WPT is a service of the Educational Communications Board and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Wisconsin Public Television is a place to grow through learning on WHWC-TV, Menomonie-Eau Claire.