Scotty Iseri was watching one of his fourteen nieces and nephews play on an iPad when he realized three important things. First, Iseri realized there was a distinct lack of high quality educational content in the app store. Next, he recognized that kids want to interact with their media, not simply stare at a screen, and finally, he realized, that as someone who had already created an online television show, he was in a perfect position to meet the need. The end result is the galaxy’s greatest rock band you’ve never heard of, The Digits.
“The band has an earthling bass player named Pavi, a 7 foot tall alien drummer named Gorgolax, and a robot keyboard player named Ray Ray. They’re out to stop an evil businessman called Doomfinger who is using music, games and toys to turn the galaxy stupid. Along the way they deal with mad space queens, Doomfinger’s attempts to sabotage them, and a wicked, witless pop duo called The Galaxy Twins.”
The Digits teach kids basic math concepts in an interactive storytelling environment. Iseri hopes kids who watch The Digits learn that math is more than a set of rules. “One of our goals is to help kids not just learn math and science but to love them. I think it’s important to show kids that you don’t have to be a ‘math person’ to understand math or a ‘science person’ to understand science…that there’s a beauty to STEM, and a lot of fun to be had with these skills.”
Iseri says he has about three years of story ideas for The Digits. Although he admits one of his characters, Gorgolax, really wants to do a “Digits go to Hawaii” season, Iseri has other plans. “Gorgolax likes to push for season 3 being ‘The Digits go Hawaiian’, but we’re building up to Doomfinger’s inevitable discovery of Earth, and how The Digits and all the viewers will get to keep the earth safe. In between, we’ll see a showdown at the Intergalactic Battle of the Bands, a hostile takeover at Doomfinger Enterprises, and at least two arguments over who gets the top bunk.”
When I asked Iseri how things have gone in his first year, his response is enthusiastic. On the education side The Digits are moving beyond just math heading into science curriculum as well. Iseri adopted a business model that doesn’t require The Digits to be a hit overnight. That said, they have developed partnerships with Skype and PBS.
More importantly we’ve gotten some great feedback from the audience. Kids are really responding to the characters. We had one classroom in Idaho send us a video question, and other kids are sending in emails or YouTube comments asking for help with their homework.
Last year, they were nominated for the International Academy of Web Television awards in the “Best Educational Series,” and recently, Gorgolax has started doing interviews with celebrities who use math in their work, including Nascar driver German Quiroga.
They have also signed with a PBS affiliate to put out a broadcast television version of The Digits. Plans for the show include science based curriculum and new characters. They are currently funding (through 5/23/14) their pilot through Indiegogo, and have exceeded their goal of $12,000.
For those of us who can’t find them on our local stations, their videos can be found on their YouTube channel and their website has swag and other stuff designed to help kids grow their interest in math and science.