American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Flight to Freedom Now Live:

Published March 21, 2012

Flight to Freedom is the second installment of Mission US, an interactive project that immerses players in U.S. history through free, role-playing games and for which ASHP/CML is the lead content developer. Mission US is produced by New York public television station WNET/THIRTEEN, developed by Electric Funstuff, and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) with additional support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In Flight to Freedom players take on the fictional role of Lucy King, a 14-year old enslaved girl on a Kentucky plantation in 1848. After escaping to Ohio, Lucy discovers that life in the North is fraught with difficulties and dangers that dramatically increase after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law. The choices that players make throughout the game determine Lucy’s ultimate fate—for instance, Lucy can be re-enslaved “down river” to work on a cotton plantation or become a conductor for the Underground Railroad who helps other freedom seekers escape to Canada.

Flight to Freedom Characters

As students play Flight to Freedom, they build knowledge of the history of slavery and the abolitionist movement. Their understanding and critical perception of the historical context can deepen through the accompanying curriculum of activities and by examining a robust collection of primary sources such as maps, posters, runaway ads, slave narratives. Students also interact with the game’s embedded “Smartwords” to build vocabulary and historical literacy skills. The game is designed to work in classroom settings, with each part playable in 20 to 30 minutes, as well as for students to play on their own.

In 2011, the Education Development Center (EDC) completed a major research study examining the use of Mission US by 1,118 seventh and eighth grade students in 50 schools across the country. The study found measurable gains in students’ historical knowledge and skills, and yielded positive feedback from teachers. A summary of the study’s key findings is available here.

Since launching in late January 2012, Flight to Freedom has attracted more than 12,000 players and earned strongly positive reviews in USA Today, Common Sense Media, and Kotaku.

ASHP/CML has begun introducing Flight to Freedom to local teachers in our Teaching American History seminars. The game is designed primarily for students in grades 5-8, but we encourage students of all ages to play the game (and share your thoughts with us).

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