The next sensation in kids’ science shows is upon us here in the United States – and not a moment too soon! N*Gen — pronounced “engine” — or Next Generation Television debuted last fall in Uganda and caught on with kids (and their grateful parents) stuck at home during the pandemic. Simultaneously entertaining and educational for its target audience of 8- to 12-year-olds, N*Gen promotes a culture of holistic learning and development through STEM-centric segments delivered by charismatic teachers, exciting animations, fun quizzes and experiments, fitness and mindfulness exercises, out-of-studio forays (to a chocolate factory, for example), as well as tips for healthy living.
N*Gen’s stated goals include:
• Foster a culture of curiosity and discovery
• Model new holistic ways of approaching learning
• Promote positive gender norms
• Nurture trust in science
• Help families stay safe during the pandemic
According to an NPR feature, since debuting on Ugandan TV last fall, N*Gen has been acquired by TV networks in more than half a dozen African countries and premiered February 6 on The Africa Channel, making it available to families in North America and the Caribbean. The show itself, NPR reported, is the brainchild of six teachers from Clarke Junior School in Kampala and Peripheral Vision International, the East African not-for-profit that funds and produces it, and it examines science through a decidedly African prism.
“Episode subjects range from astrophysics to biology to the natural sciences,” the NPR article states. “Presenters give short lessons on topics such as bees, robots, sounds, water, and paleontology. They conduct science experiments – how to make a model of an X-ray of their hand using paper and flour, for example. The instructions: Sprinkle flour over the hand on a black piece of paper to create an outline, then place 27 sticks on the paper to represent the 27 bones in the hand.”
Season one of N*Gen consists of 13 half-hour episodes. A second season is already in the works. Its timely focus? Issues tied to climate change.
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