ELINOR WONDERS WHY, a new series from PBS KIDS, aims to encourage 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. This new multiplatform series, created by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson and produced in partnership with Pipeline Studios, premiered nationwide on PBS stations, the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and PBS KIDS digital platforms on Labor Day 2020.
The stories in ELINOR WONDERS WHY center around Elinor and her friends Ari, a funny and imaginative bat, and Olive, a perceptive and warm elephant. As 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. ELINOR WONDERS WHY encourages children and parents to ask their own questions and experience the joy of discovery and understanding together.
ELINOR WONDERS WHY comes to PBS KIDS from co-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,” said co-creators Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson.
ELINOR WONDERS WHY is being developed as part of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS Ready To Learn Initiative with funding from the U.S. Department of Education. The Ready To Learn Initiative is a federal program that supports the development of innovative educational television and digital media targeted to preschool and early elementary school children and their families.
Each episode of ELINOR WONDERS WHY will include two animated 11-minute stories with accompanying interstitial content. The series is currently in production for 40 half-hour episodes.
Along with the television series, ELINOR WONDERS WHY will offer digital content for kids, parents and teachers, also debuting in September 2020. ELINOR WONDERS WHY games will be available on pbskids.org and on the free PBS KIDS Games App, along with clips and full episodes streaming across PBS KIDS’ video platforms, including the free PBS KIDS Video App. An ELINOR WONDERS WHY app will also launch after the series’ debut. Parent resources, including tips and hands-on activities to extend the learning at home, will be available on the PBS KIDS for Parents site, and PBS LearningMedia will offer classroom-ready materials for teachers, including video excerpts, games, teaching tips and printable activities.