Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Spring 2016 Television
Ages: 5 - 12 yrs.
Producer: Twin Cities PBS
Rating: TV G

One of the challenges in bridging the gender gap for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) studies is presenting these subjects in an appealing but not pandering way. SciGirls, from PBS (Twin Cities PBS in St. Paul, MN to be precise) and the National Science Foundation, does an excellent job of getting the balance just right by creating easy to follow projects and activities that are a gateway of sorts to the sciences. Not only does the show present appropriate role models in the field, it also appeals to the innately curious and adventurous spirit of young adults by making exploring our natural world through scientific application seem like everyday fun. Each episode is prefaced and anchored by animated segments featuring Izzie, the animated host of the SciGirls website and her pal since preschool, Jake. Their brief segments set up live action stories about young women from all over the country, using technology, fun and friendship to explore their world through a scientific lens. Most episodes resolve around Citizen Science, a concept that anybody can help researchers and scientific institutes collect data on important subjects. For instance, a group of friends from St. Louis learn to discern frog calls and count the number of amphibians they see for Frog Watch. Others, learn about the endangered Monarch butterflies and keep butterfly diaries as they try to raise their own. A group of girls from California learn about kelp forests and report the number of species at different levels of this unique underwater landscape. By incorporating the tools used daily by middle school girls, such as social media and technology, the whole scientific process, from devising a plausible experiment and stating expectations to observation and data collection, is explored. And it's not all serious science, as we see that these are well rounded girls who love crafts, music, animals and sports. The show and its companion website offer lots of inspiration for fun as well as scientific projects that nurture the curious mind. Not to mention inspiration for that staple of middle school-the science fair project.

Laura Fries   ©2016 Parents' Choice
A freelance writer and 20 year member of the Television Critics Association Laura has been writing about television and film entertainment for more years than she cares to admit. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alexandria, Virginia.

Look for this product at:
Twin Cities PBS

Share This