Duquesne professor creates 'Scientastic!' show for PBS
When Leah's best friend, Habiba, falls and breaks her arm at soccer practice, Leah, just 12, is determined to learn everything she can to help Habiba, and the resourceful girl takes the initiative.
"How can I help her bone heal, and help her gain confidence while Habiba is recovering?"
"What are bones, anyway, and how do they heal?"
These are questions for which Leah seeks answers by interviewing doctors, and officials from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the National Aviary.
Leah -- in real life, actress Lili Reinhart of the Cleveland area -- plays the lead role of the pilot episode of "Scientastic!", a creation of John Pollock, a Duquesne University biology professor. The commercial-free, half-hour episode, "Sticks and Stones," will air for the first time Thursday on WQED-TV.
Pollock hopes many more episodes -- ideally, at least a season of 13 to 26 -- will follow.
"It's a television show aimed at children and families with the goal of showing how fun and accessible science is," he says. "We're using a live-action show, so there are real kids taking on the roles. They're actually interviewing real scientists and experts each week."
The show, via Leah, should inspire young people -- mostly in late elementary and middle school -- to show initiative while seeking knowledge, like going to the library, and going to experts to ask them questions directly.
"Nowadays, if a kid or even an adult has questions, probably the first response is going to be to Google it," Pollock says. "I want to show people that there's another way."
In "Sticks and Stones," viewers will learn about the anatomy and physiology of bones. They also will get a lesson about how to deal with bullying in a constructive way. Mean girls on the soccer team pick on Habiba, and express joy that she is injured and off the team, because they are jealous of her, Pollock says.
"We take each of these concepts ... and weave it into a really fun storyline that's got some excitement, and a little bit of drama," Pollock says. "I hope that (viewers) will have fun with it, and that they'll want to see more."
"Scientastic!" uses mostly child actors and actresses from Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts school, including Joseph Serafini, 12, a Bethel Park native. He plays the role of Axel, Leah's pesky and inquisitive younger brother.
Future "Scientastic!" episodes subjects could include vaccines, and diet, nutrition, exercise and obesity, Pollock says. Although the pilot episode only is airing in Pittsburgh, American Public Television is looking at picking the show up and distributing it nationally, depending on the response. Leah's character would return as the lead in every episode, says Pollock, who says that "Scientastic!" reinforces girls' capabilities in science.
"Sticks and Stones" -- directed by Emmy-Award-winning Leo Eaton, who co-created and directs the PBS hit show "Zoboomafoo" -- is part of WQED's back-to-school programming. Pollock partnered with David Caldwell of Planet Earth Television to create "Scientastic!", which was funded by about $205,000 in grants from organizations including UPMC Health Plan, the U.S. Department of Education, Duquesne University and The Pittsburgh Foundation's William K. Fitch Fund.Additional Information:
The program will air several times Thursday through Tuesday on WQED-TV. The pilot episode, 'Sticks and Stones,' will air at 8 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday; 4:30 p.m. Friday; noon, 12:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday; and 5 p.m. Tuesday. Details: Website.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- OPEC decision on crude sets small producers on perilous path, analysts say
- Pitt’s challenge: Contani Miami’s Johnson, Dorsett
- Fewer Dems to fight for ObamaCare
- Inside the National Cathedral ‘prayer service’
- Penguins notebook: Malkin clicking on power play
- The AG-designate: Tough questions for Loretta Lynch
- U.S.-backed rebels push forward in southern Syria
- Moral confusion in Ferguson
- Fair funding for schools
- Steelers notebook: Defense has a retro feel
- A true conservationist