Lisa Henson [Sid the Science Kid & Dinosaur Train]

The daughter of famous Jim Henson is the first plenary speaker for the weekend. She talked about my favorite show on PBS: Sid the Science Kid! There are currently 40 episodes covering Science Tools & Measurement, Health, and Biology with new episodes coming to cover Light & Shadows, Physics, and Environmental Systems. Can you guess how excited I am to see those Physics episodes?!

The basic idea of Sid the Science Kid is to recreate a realistic preschool experience through sketch comedy and humor provided by Sid, his family, and his friends. Sid and his friends go to preschool each day and actively investigate the answers to different questions through the Preschool Pathways to Science curriculum with their teacher Miss Suzie.

Henson states that PBS has done such a great job of encouraging young children to pursue literacy through Sesame Street (she even showed a clip of herself on the show when she was young!) The show Cyberchase has sparked a new interest in young children doing mathematics. Sid the Science Kid was the answer to providing kids with exciting science television programming. As Henson says, “we want to have kids identify themselves and say ‘I like science!’”

Sid the Science Kid teaches children to investigate and think larger than what they know to discover new things about the world around them. Most importantly, “These adults in Sid’s world take advantage of teachable moments.”

The other new PBS show for early childhood science education is Dinosaur Train. Like Sid the Science Kid, Dinosaur Train has the goal of encouraging kids to be investigators in their worlds. Henson calls the show the “television version of chocolate and peanut butter.” Dinosaur children have questions about their surroundings and go on the Dinosaur Train to explore pre-historic ecosystems to discover more about life science, paleontology, and physical science.

There’s even humor as the main character’s mom says, “That’s enough observing for one day now, Buddy.” The characters on these shows are never satisfied – they always want to know more!

Factual content in Dinosaur Train relates to current day understandings and the modern animal kingdom. Dr. Scott Sampson is the content advisor and even appears on every episode. Dr. Scott explains his hypothesis and conclusions relating to the episode’s content, encourages students to think and explore like a scientists.

Each episode ends with Dr. Scott telling his viewers to “Get outside, get into nature, and get observing.”

Henson finished with a quote from her dad: “I believe that we can use television and film for good and we can shape the thoughts of children and adults in a positive way.”

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