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Zula Patrol To Go Virtual with IBM

The producers of kids' CGI science series ZULA PATROL are joining with IBM to create a virtual world based on the popular property, report C21 MEDIA and KIDSCREEN. "Zulaworld," which launches later this year, will be a "marriage of Second Life with Club Penguin," according to creator Deborah Manchester. The immersive environment, which targets 4- to 8-year-olds, will be not only for the home market, but for educational establishments as well.

"The reason we're partnering with IBM on this is that their mission is similar to our goals to have a global reach and to revolutionise the way young people are introduced to these concepts of science, math and technology," Manchester told C21. "Kids are becoming more and more disengaged with what's happening in schools. What we're trying to do is get them re-engaged in a way that makes things very fun."

IBM's Linda Ban, who handles client and program strategy for the 3D internet and digital convergence division, added that Zulaworld was a "natural fit" for the company. "IBM, from a corporate citizen perspective, has a deep interest in math, science and technology education for children and teenagers. It's critically important going forward to prepare the next generation for what's going to come," she said.

The large site will have multiple points of entry and layered content to correspond with the needs of kids at different stages of development. At the same time, educators and teachers will have access to a virtual world that supports lesson planning and global communication, while parents can access a host of different website controls.

The ZULA PATROL TV series, which debuted on PBS in the U.S., reaches 72 million households on 75% of PBS affiliates. It begins airing this month on Canadian preschool network Treehouse TV, and plans call for both the series and the site to be available in China by the middle of next year.