PBS KIDS will premiere a brand-new animated series on Labor Day 2020. Titled Elinor Wonders Why (40 x half-hours), the exploration-themed show encourages children to follow their curiosity, ask questions when they don’t understand and find answers using science inquiry skills. The main character Elinor, the most observant and curious bunny rabbit in Animal Town, will introduce kids ages 3-5 to science, nature and community through adventures with her friends. Each episode includes two 11-minute animated stories plus interstitial content.
This new multiplatform series, created by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson and produced in partnership with Pipeline Studios, will debut nationwide on PBS stations, the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and PBS KIDS digital platforms on September 7, 2020.
“Kids love to ask questions about how the world works,” said Linda Simensky, Vice President, Children’s Programming, PBS. “That’s what makes Elinor Wonders Why such a perfect show for preschoolers. Kids will recognize themselves in Elinor’s boundless curiosity as she pursues the questions she wonders about – making observations and reveling in nature’s amazing answers.”
Elinor Wonders Why centers on Elinor and her friends Ari, a funny and imaginative bat, and Olive, a perceptive and warm elephant. As the kids explore Animal Town, they will meet all kinds of interesting, funny, and quirky characters, each with something to teach us about respecting others, the importance of diversity, caring for the environment, and working together to solve problems. In each episode, Elinor models the foundational practices of science inquiry and engineering design — including her amazing powers of observation and willingness to ask questions and investigate. When she encounters something she doesn’t understand, like why birds have feathers or how tiny ants build massive anthills, she just can’t let it go until she figures it out. And in discovering the answers, Elinor often learns something about nature’s ingenious inventions and how they can connect to ideas in our designed world, and what it takes to live in a community.
The show comes from o-creators Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson. Cham is the cartoonist behind the popular online comic Piled Higher and Deeper (a.k.a. PHD Comics). He holds a PhD in Robotics from Stanford University and is a former Instructor and Research Associate at Caltech. Whiteson is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine, and a fellow of the American Physical Society. He earned his PhD in Physics from the University of California at Berkeley and is an active researcher, using the Large Hadron Collider at CERN to search for exotic new particles. The two have collaborated on several projects aimed at exploring science-related questions with humor, including a book (We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe) and a podcast (Daniel & Jorge Explain the Universe).
“We want to encourage children’s curious nature and share with them the fun and joy of discovery. We hope to show children that science is not just a list of facts, but a way of answering questions, and of learning about the world,” the creators commented.
The series is being developed as part of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS Ready To Learn Initiative with funding from the U.S. Department of Education.
“Public media’s free and high-quality educational programs, coupled with strong local station engagement efforts in the community, introduce new learning opportunities for children who may not otherwise have access to them,” said Deb Sanchez, Senior Vice President for Education and Children’s Content, CPB. “Elinor Wonders Why supports children’s learning through vital practices like science inquiry, which is a priority of the Ready To Learn grant.”
Accompanying the series launch in September 2020 will be digital content for kids, parents and teachers, including games, clips and full episodes, an Elinor Wonders Why app, hands-on activities and classroom materials available across pbskids.org, PBS KIDS Games App, PBS KIDS Video App, PBS KIDS for Parents and PBS LearningMedia.