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Public Television and Engineering Public Television and Engineering It all began back in 1999 with Building Big , a five-part television series and ambitious educational outreach campaign. Partnerships with engineers, informal educators and public television stations

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Public Television and Engineering

It all began back in 1999 with Building Big, a five-part television series and ambitious educational outreach campaign. Partnerships with engineers, informal educators and public television stations

enabled WGBH to effectively

bring hands-on engineering

opportunities and related

resources to countless kids.


Public Television and Engineering

The resounding success of this effort and especially, educators’ and engineers’ outpouring of response to them, inspired WGBH to make a long-term commitment to supporting engineering education. For the past five years, WGBH, with crucial NSF support, has made good on this promise, working onscreen, in classrooms and after-schools programs, with parents, educators, and volunteer engineers to promote young people’s interest and involvement in engineering. The following present an overview of WGBH’s engineering offerings.


Who is WGBH?

WGBH, Boston’s public television station,

produces 33% of all prime-time PBS programs

WGBH builds on the impact of our TV programs

with resources for engineers and educators:

Companion Web sites (

Educator Resources

Online professional

development courses


The Agenda

This presentation highlights six WGBH productions,

organized by grade level:

Curious George Preschool

FETCH! 6- to 9-year-olds

ZOOM 6- to 11-year-olds

Design Squad 9- to 12-year-olds

Building Big 9- to 12-yea- olds

Extraordinary Women 14- to 18-year-olds



Curious George

Based on bestselling book series, this preschool

series premieres on PBS Fall ‘06

A co-production with Universal,

Curious George will:

• Nurture children’s innate curiosity

• Encourage hands-on exploration

• Expose children to the design



Watch Curious George

This is a Quick Time video. Simply click on the image and it should begin to play.


Available Resources

Curious George Discovery GuideEarly childhood

educators can use this guide to build early science,

engineering, and math understanding.

Curious George Family Activity Booklet Families can

explore engineering through play.

Curious George Activity Sheets Easy-to-do

activities are great for events and workshops.  

PDF’s available in August 2006 at



Part game show, Part reality TV, Part spoof

FETCH! premieres on May 29, 2006

This PBS television show for kids ages 6 to 9

features live action (six real kids) mixed with

animation (host Ruff Ruffman)

The show focuses on

real-world science

and engineering


Watch FETCH!

This is a Quick Time video. Simply click on the image and it should begin to play.


Available Resources

FETCH! Activity GuideEngage kids in FETCH!’s challenges!

With options for individual meetings or a 6-week club,

kids will be investigating for weeks!

FETCH! Challenge SheetsUse these reproducible pages

(in English and Spanish) at events, workshops, and

exhibits or use them to extend a FETCH! science club.

Available June ‘06

Go to


Visit the FETCH! preview site.

Play some games and watch a clip

from the show



Popular PBS television show for kids

ages 6 to 11

Variety style format features jokes,

recipes, & science and engineering

Evaluation found:

•Children learned and retained

knowledge about specific

science content

•Demonstrated increased

use of “Habits of Mind”

problem-solving skills


Available Resources

ClubZOOM Engineering

In this afterschool club, kids invent, build, tinker, and

work together to solve ZOOM’s engineering challenges

ZOOM Activity Sheets

With a collection of over 80 engineering, science, and

math activities there is sure to be one that suits your

event or workshops. Available in English and Spanish.

Available today

Go to


ZOOM Into Engineering

Produced in 2002, this ASCE and Dupont Eweek legacy project offers engineers:

Activity Guide Six activities help kids strengthen their design process skills

CD-Rom Tutorial Learn to work with kids using this 45 minute interactive CD


Design Squad

PBS engineering game show for kids ages 9 to13

Premieres February 2007

Each show features 8 contestants & 2 engineers

Design Squad will:

Increase students’

knowledge of

engineering and their

design process skills

Improve the public

image of engineering


Watch Design Squad

This is a Quick Time video. Simply click on the image and it should begin to play.


Available Resources

  • Educator’s Guide Contains 3 engineering challenges for 10-13 year old kids to complete over 12 meetings
  • Video DVD includes three 5- to 8-minute video clips illustrating challenges
  • Activity sheets
  • Provides smaller-scale
  • challenges for events
  • and workshops

  • Launching in Feburary 2007, the Web site
  • will feature:
  • virtual versions of TV challenges
  • an online magazine about various
  • engineering professions
  • Educators Guide
  • Activity Sheets
  • Streaming video

Building Big

Produced in 1999

This five-part series on PBS

and accompanying outreach


Explains basic physical science

principles behind structures

Promotes a positive attitude

towards civil engineering

Demonstrates the impact of

civil engineering on society

slide21 big

The Web site features:

The Labs - Try your hand at our

interactive engineering labs

Educator’s Guide - Use the

hands-on activities in

this guide with middle schoolers.

Who Builds Big? - Find out what's

cool about being an engineer.

Wonders of the World -

Explore our databank of big



Extraordinary Women Engineers

A coalition of 55 engineering associations, universities, corporations and WGBH want to know

Why are academically-prepared high school girls not choosing engineering?


Consumer Research

To answer this question, from June 2004 to

January 2005 WGBH conducted qualitative

consumer research. We hosted in-person focus and

online focus groups reaching over 4,500 girls,

Educators, and engineers.


What do high school girls think

about engineering?

• Engineering is for people who LOVE both

math and science

• Don’t know what engineering is

• Don’t show an interest in the field nor do they

think it is “for them.”

“Someone who excels in math and science.

Likes working out problems and working with other people.

Someone who is motivated, dedicated, and who doesn’t mind

sitting in a cubical all day.”


What are career motivators for high school girls?

Professional interests for high school girls hinge upon relevance—it is rewarding and suggests that the profession is for someone “like me.”

Girls wishes for future job:

• Enjoyable

• Good working environment

• To make a difference

• Make good income


What messages is the engineering

community sending to students?

• Engineering is challenging

• Stress the importance of superior math and

science abilities.

“It’s not easy—but if you’re the type who when faced

with a problem some would call impossible is even more

driven to move mountains to find a solution, then you might

have it in you to be an engineer.”


What messages about engineering

will resonate with high school students?

• Informational stories that tell them more about

what the engineering profession entails

• Positive personal stories that relate engineering

to the lifestyle that they are hoping to obtain


What messages is the engineering

community sending to high school students?

DISCONNECT: Current messaging about engineering is not

aligned with key motivators for students. Neither the emphasis

on “curriculum” nor the notion of “a challenge” is relevant

for high school girls.


Strategic Recommendations

Fundamental shift in the way engineering is portrayed

•Facilitate a dialogue within engineering community

•Develop and test messages that will resonate with

high school girls

•Create materials using these tested messages

•Create training opportunities and resources

for engineers

•Create training opportunities and resources for

teachers and school counselors


To read the full report, visit our web site. While there you can also watch a short video featuring the results.


Questions? Contact:

Thea Sahr, Manager Special Initiatives