Math, science heating up on 'Sesame Street'

Published: Saturday, Oct. 1 2011 10:06 a.m. MDT

Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster and their pals are getting schooled — in math, science, engineering and technology.

Starting this week, the 42-year-old children's show added what executive producer Carol-Lynn Parente calls "age-appropriate experimentation."

"It really boils down to a curriculum of asking questions, observing ... making a hypothesis and testing it out," Parente told ABC News.

It's also about helping America's kids not lag in certain subjects. The 2009 Program for International Student Assessment, the most recent with available data, found that of 65 industrialized countries, American teens at age 15 were decidedly average, placing 23rd in science and 30th in math.

The ABC report noted that Sesame Street's "frequent viewers even earned better grades in English, math and science and had a higher grade-point average than nonviewers."

PBS says the show, aimed at tykes ages 2 to 4, helps prepare them for school. "Sesame Street is built around a comprehensive, whole-child curriculum created by in-house child psychologists and educators. Every segment, every song and every story is designed to educate young viewers about a specific lesson — and every year the curriculum focus changes to address the current educational needs of children," its website says.

"Acknowledging Newton's Laws of Motion, this season anyone who hits a brick wall will bounce back before sliding to the floor," is how USA Today describes what viewers can expect to see. Parente described it to the national newspaper very clearly: "It's more scientifically accurate slapstick."

But not to worry, head writer Joey Mazzarino said in the same article. If it's not funny, they won't try to make it fly.

Not even with a perfectly depicted trajectory.

EMAIL: lois@desnews.com, Twitter: loisco

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