URI Professor develops children’s TV program to elevate girls in STEM
New England Council member, University of Rhode Island (URI) announced that Associate Professor of Education, Sara Sweetman will develop a new season of a popular children’s show to facilitate collaboration between boys and girls in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
After consulting on several PBS Kids shows, Sweetman will again partner with the organization to produce eight new episodes for “Elinor Wonders Why,” a show geared toward preschoolers to get them interested in natural sciences. The National Science Foundation awarded Sweetman and a team of URI students $3.4 million to study children’s perspectives on women scientists.
Another branch of the project will be led by URI computer science professor Abdeltawab Hendawi, whose team will develop an interactive game that allows children to customize their own scientists to help them understand the role and importance of science. The games will be given to children to study gender stereotypes and collaboration before and after watching the new season of the PBS Kids show. Sweetman hopes to play a role in redefining the relationship between men and women in science.
“The biggest takeaway at my table was the overall sense that we have been going about this idea of equity and gender in the sciences wrong,” said Sweetman. “What the film really brought out was this idea that women aren’t supported by their male colleagues in STEM. If we really want to have a gender-diverse field in the sciences, we need to work with both boys and girls.“
The New England Council commends the University of Rhode Island for supporting the pursuit of equity in STEM disciplines.
Read more on the University of Rhode Island webpage.