PBS KIDS announces new animated series, ‘ELINOR WONDERS WHY’, to inspire curiosity learning among kids

PBS KIDS has announced a new STEM series, ELINOR WONDERS WHY, to inspire preschoolers and parents to ask questions and experience the joys of Nature and curiosity together.

The multi-platform show will enable preschoolers and parents to take a trip to Animal Town this Labor Day, follow their curiosity, ask questions, figure out the answers, and learn about the natural world around them using their science inquiry skills. 

Created by notable cartoonist and robotics engineer, Jorge Cham, and physicist and educator, Daniel Whiteson, ELINOR WONDERS WHY is produced in partnership with Pipeline Studios. The animated series will premiere across all PBS stations- the PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and PBS KIDS digital platforms on 7 September, 2020, with a special one-hour premiere that kicks off a week of new episodes.

Commenting on the new series, PBS KIDS Content head Linda Simensky said, “We’re so excited to invite audiences into the fascinating world of Animal Town and introduce them to Elinor and her friends as they ask questions and explore the remarkable ways that our everyday lives are connected to nature. Kids learn best when their parents and caretakers are engaged in their learning. ELINOR WONDERS WHY will spark preschoolers’ curiosity with an innovative science inquiry curriculum and will encourage the adults in children’s lives to help them answer their questions by exploring together.”

In the upcoming premiere, Elinor, the forever curious and observant bunny rabbit in Animal Town, plays hide-and-go-seek with her friends and finds out how animals hide in nature; investigates a strange nighttime sound made by an owl and realizes many fascinating creatures are doing interesting things at night; makes ‘Backyard Soup’ with vegetables from her family’s garden; and sells lots of cupcakes by learning how flowers attract bees, through color and smell, and applying those concepts to baking. 

ELINOR WONDERS WHY helps give parents the confidence to say, ‘I don’t know the answer. Let’s explore it together. Asking questions and investigating the answer are at the core of scientific discovery, and we designed the series to model and encourage children, parents and educators to do just that together,” added Whiteson.  

Developed for children aged three to five, ELINOR WONDERS WHY centers on the adventures of Elinor and her pals, Ari, a funny and imaginative bat; and Olive, a perceptive and warm elephant. As young viewers explore Animal Town along with Elinor, Ari and Olive, they will meet all kinds of interesting, funny, and quirky characters, each with a lesson to share about respecting others, the importance of diversity, caring for the environment and working together to solve problems. 

“Much like my own daughter, Elinor, who inspired the series’ main character, kids everywhere love to wonder about things around them and find out the answers. Our hope is that the show will help foster the natural curiosity of young children and make them want to explore and learn, just like Elinor and her friends do in these stories,” stated Cham. 

ELINOR WONDERS WHY models the foundational practices of science inquiry and engineering design in each episode, using her amazing powers of observation and willingness to ask questions. When she encounters something she doesn’t understand, like why birds have feathers or how tiny ants build massive anthills, she perseveres until she figures it out. In discovering the answers, Elinor often learns something about nature’s ingenious inventions and how they can relate to aspects of our designed world, as well as what it takes to live in a community.

The one-hour premiere of the first episode on 7 September includes four stories – Hiding in Plain Sight, Owl Girl, Backyard Soup and Colorful and Tasty.

Funding for ELINOR WONDERS WHY was provided by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and a grant from the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Ready To Learn Initiative, a federal programme 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 the animated series includes two 11-minute stories accompanied by interstitial content. The series is currently in production for 40 half-hour episodes.

ELINOR WONDERS WHY will offer digital content for kids, parents and teachers, also debuting in September 2020. Its games will be available on pbskids.org and on the PBS KIDS Games App for free, along with clips and full episodes streaming across PBS KIDS’ video platforms, including the free PBS KIDS Video App. 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.