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PBS Bets $3 Million That Monkeys Are Better CS Preschool Teachers Than Rabbits

theodp writes: EdSurge reports that a new PBS show will teach preschoolers how to think like computers. Marisa Wolsky, an executive producer at WGBH Boston, believes television can be a way to teach Computational Thinking. She is in the first stages of creating an animated television show called Monkeying Around [$3,000,000 NSF award] that uses four monkeys to teach the subject. Why monkeys? EdSurge explains, “Initially, Wolsky said her team wanted to use rabbits to teach the kids, but after realizing the animal would need to use its hands, they decided to go with monkeys [Rabbits historically enjoyed success teaching the 3 R’s].” In a press release announcing the new pre-K show, WGBH cited “a great deal of national interest in computer science and coding,” adding that “it is never too early to start.” WGBH is not the only PBS station that’s bullish on CS. According to an NSF Award Abstract, “Twin Cities PBS (TPT), the National Girls Collaborative (NGC) and [tech-bankrolled] Code.org will lead Code: SciGirls! Media to Engage Girls in Computing Pathways, a three-year [$2.63 million] project designed to engage 8-13 year-old girls in coding through transmedia programming which inspires and prepares them for future computer science studies and career paths […] Drawing on narrative transportation theory and character identification theory, TPT will commission two exploratory knowledge-building studies to investigate: To what extent and how do the narrative formats of the Code: SciGirls! online media affect girls’ interest, beliefs, and behavioral intent towards coding and code-related careers?” And Code Trip, a PBS series touted by Microsoft that aired in 2016 [$200,000 NSF award], explored computer science opportunities for young people by, as Microsoft explained, following “three students traveling around the country to speak with leaders including Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, and Hadi Partovi, entrepreneur and cofounder of Code.org.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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