STEM education is frequently hands-on, engaging, and filled with creative problem-solving activities. More elementary and high schools, community colleges, and universities are getting the word out about the innovative STEM educational opportunities that they provide. These educational institutions aim to inspire more young people to pursue STEM careers.
However, educational institutions are not the only ones that offer vibrant STEM educational opportunities. Many nonprofit organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and 4-H offer exciting STEM educational programs for children. Additionally, science and art museums, as well as zoos, offer interactive STEM programming to their patrons. Corporations are also getting into the act, with companies like Verizon and Intel offering STEM programs as a form of outreach to underrepresented communities. Books are another way to provide youth with an entertaining introduction to STEM concepts, with both preschool and young adult readers targeted. Television and streaming video series are other outlets that offer opportunities to learn about STEM concepts. Read on to find out about three STEM-related television and video series that appeal to a wide variety of age groups.
Tumble Leaf is a stop-motion animated show for preschoolers available through Amazon Prime. Now in its fourth season, the show has won several awards, including 11 Emmy Awards. Featuring handmade puppets, costumes, sets, and props, each episode emphasizes characters that learn through the process of play. Interaction with nature figures prominently, as do problem-solving activities, particularly for the main character, a blue fox named Fig, whose motto is “let me figure this out.”
Fig and his friends, including Hedge, Pine, Maple, Stick, Gourd, and Ginkgo, encounter many situations that involve STEM learning concepts. For example, in the fourth season, STEM-related concepts such as observing and protecting nature, expecting the unexpected, thinking of discovery as an adventure, using wind and water as power sources, and persevering through trial and error are highlighted. These ways of thinking and acting are displayed by the most advanced scientists in the world, so laying the foundation for them at such an early age can only be beneficial. Surely, helping young children to learn these concepts will only lead to an increase in the number of youth who are successful in STEM education and STEM careers in the future.
Brainchild is a live-action talk and variety show for school-age children available on Netflix. With one season completed, the series has attracted media attention from prominent outlets such as National Public Radio (NPR) for helping to promote diversity in the STEM fields. The show provides both girls and minority youth with a role model whom they can emulate. In each episode, she investigates a different STEM-related topic sure to interest young viewers.
The episodes that comprise the first season feature the following topics: social media design, good and bad germs, the power of the senses, dream analysis, stars and space matter, and emotional control. The 13th and final episode of the first season is designed in a game show format, with children and their parents on opposing teams as they complete a variety of mental and physical challenges. Making STEM topics fun is sure to appeal to school-age youth, helping to inspire more young people to study and pursue STEM careers in the future.
Airing on the Science Channel, How It’s Made is a documentary television series that is likely to appeal to both teens and adults. Streaming of episodes is also available via Hulu. Currently in its 23rd season, this long-running show focuses on the technology and engineering areas of STEM. Each episode highlights the ways in which a variety of products are manufactured in factories and processing plants. With 392 episodes to date—and each one featuring several products—viewers are sure to find a favorite item highlighted.
In the most recent season, featured products included dry erase boards, air hockey tables, shuffleboard tables, bells, steel pulleys, and rotary engines, to name just a few. According to the show’s official website, fans have most enjoyed learning about making chocolate banana loaves, bulk chocolate, cupcakes, external hard drives, bowling balls, and hockey blades. With such a diversity of products highlighted, nearly everyone is likely to find at least one way in which technology and engineering have been used to make at least one item that is meaningful to them.