The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has closed schools statewide and left a lot of parents “home schooling” their children. If you have an elementary-age child, this is a great time to incorporate pedestrian and bicycle safety into their schoolwork. Teaching your children pedestrian and bicycle safety will help them be safer as they explore your neighborhood. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the free Harley and Hobbit animated series created by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) with funding from the Texas Department of Transportation.
The Harley and Hobbit series, along with lesson plans and activities, aims to educate elementary-age children about how to be safer pedestrians and bicyclists. Harley and Hobbit are a brother-sister duo created by TTI Associate Research Engineer and Project Lead Myunghoon Ko. The two mouse characters embark on adventures around their neighborhood while practicing important safety measures.
“I first had the idea for the project when my daughter, Emily, was nine years old,” explains Ko. “As she became more exposed to the outdoors by walking or crossing a street or biking, my knowledge as a safety engineer allowed me to share tips with her to help keep her safe. The Harley and Hobbit series allowed me to get those tips out to other children, whose parents are no doubt as concerned for their children’s safety as I am for mine.”
The animated series is currently focused on elementary-age children from pre-K to 4th grade.
The pre-K to 1st-grade material includes animated videos and worksheets on the following pedestrian and bicycle safety topics:
The 2nd– to 4th-grade material includes animated videos and worksheets on the following pedestrian and bicycle safety topics:
- Bikes Are Vehicles Too
- Intersection Safety
- Bicycle Safety
- Pedestrian Safety
- Parking Lot Safety
- Midblock Crossing
- Distraction While Walking or Biking
The animated videos and activities are also available in Spanish.
A diverse team helped bring Ko’s research vision to life. Ergun Akleman and his students in the Texas A&M University Department of Visualization & Computer Science created the Harley and Hobbit animations. Bren McCullar, a professor in the education/teaching department at Blinn College, developed the lesson plans and activities with the assistance of TTI [Research Publications Designer] Debbie Murillo. McCullar served as the educational specialist for the animated series and ensured that the Harley and Hobbit designs fit the intended audience and met Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) requirements used by schools. Murillo assisted with developing the schoolwork and designing printed materials.
The Harley and Hobbit voices come from TTI Assistant Research Scientists Paige Ericson-Graber (Harley’s voice) and Amber Trueblood (Hobbit’s voice).
“Through teaching pedestrian and bike safety to children, they learn safety lessons they can use throughout their lives to keep them safe on Texas roads, such as how to cross roads safely and where they should walk/ride bikes,” Trueblood explains. “Dr. Ko and the project team developed free materials for parents and schools to reach the most children possible.”
After a long day of schooling at home, your child can practice the safety tips they learn from Harley and Hobbit as they get outside to have fun riding their bikes or walking around your neighborhood. To learn more about Harley and Hobbit, check out their website.