At the Television Critics Association Press Tour, PBS KIDS announced Work It Out Wombats!, a new animated series for kids aged three to six from GBH Kids and Pipeline Studios. Work It Out Wombats! stars Malik, Zadie, and Zeke—three energetic and creative marsupial siblings who live with their grandmother in her treehouse apartment complex. The playful trio will demonstrate computational thinking (CT) for preschoolers, a way of thinking that enables them to solve problems, express themselves, and accomplish tasks using the practices, processes, and ideas at the core of computer science. Work It Out Wombats! is set to premiere on PBS KIDS in early 2023.
PBS KIDS senior VP and GM Sara DeWitt said, “Like most preschoolers, Malik, Zadie, and Zeke are curious and naturally inclined to explore the world around them. We’re excited to bring the Wombats and all their fun adventures to kids across the country, inspiring them to work with others to solve problems and tackle challenges.”
Produced by GBH Kids and Pipeline Studios, Work It Out Wombats! takes place in the Treeborhood, the biggest treehouse in existence—with secret passageways, gondolas, and rope swings. The residents of the Treeborhood—wombats, snakes, moose, kangaroos, iguanas, fish, tarsiers, and eagles—bring varied skills and abilities, assorted ways of thinking, and different family structures and traditions to this diverse and vibrant community of neighbours, a place where even the adults join in the play.
In each story, the Wombats demonstrate computational thinking for preschoolers, learning as they go. Their aspirations will sometimes exceed their proficiency. But, eventually, they’ll stop, take a breath, put their heads together and figure out a fix—using the design process, sequencing, debugging, and other key elements of computational thinking.
GBH Kids executive producers Marcy Gunther and Marisa Wolsky said, “Preschoolers are passionate about achieving their goals, but they don’t always know the best way to go about meeting them. By using computational thinking, they have a powerful toolkit for self-expression, for building projects, and for getting out of messes.”
Pipeline Studios executive producer Luis Lopez said, “Our goal with Work It Out Wombats! is to empower our creative talent and artists to seamlessly blend education and entertainment as they bring the adventures, surprises, mysteries, and hilarious mess-ups of the Wombats and their friends and neighbors to life.”
Full of boundless energy, Malik, Zadie, and Zeke run, bounce, roll, and romp, always on the lookout for interesting Treeborhood problems to solve. Malik is thoughtful, considerate, and sometimes set in his ways (which can be a good thing when you’re problem-solving). His speedy, adventurous younger sister, Zadie, is a brainstormer extraordinaire, with ideas that range from silly to very smart. Zeke is the youngest—a funny, curious cuddle-bug who loves to play and explore. Super, their grandmother, is the Superintendent and unofficial “Mayor” of the Treeborhood—the de facto heart and soul of the place.
With Work It Out Wombats! the fantastical animal world, the GBH and Pipeline Studios teams have been deliberate in taking an inclusive and authentic approach to telling stories. Leading this effort are Darlene Mortel Edouard, Ph.D., and Kareem Edouard, Ph.D., who serve as the creative producers of the series and have expertise in cultural and visual studies, intersectionality, and STEM engagement from communities underrepresented in STEM fields.
Educational Media and Learning Experiences, Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) senior vice president Debra Tica Sanchez said, “Work It Out Wombats! introduces problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration to young learners in a fun and age-appropriate way, helping children get excited about learning and laying important groundwork for success in school and life.”
The series 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 at preschool and early elementary school children and their families.
Work It Out Wombats! games will launch in tandem with the series on pbskids website and the free PBS KIDS Games App.