Sesame Street and Science Education

Cookie Monster of Sesame Street performs a science experiment, "Sink or Float", in the following video:

It is interactive, so you better pick an option when Cookie Monster asks you to make one.

Super Grover unleashes the power of investigation, demonstrating how math and science can save the day.

And here comes Murray experimenting on race cars of various sizes, shapes and weight:

The big question is whether this type of educational program works. The deliberate inclusion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) into Sesame Street programs started in 2009. Rosemarie Truglio, senior vice president, curriculum and content at Sesame Workshop, presented a poster at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Montreal, QC, Canada, entitled "The Influence of Sesame Street on Children’s Understanding of Nature and the Environment", making the claim: "The impact was impressive. Children who watched knew 50% more nature-related science terms—such as metamorphosis, hibernation, habitat, and pollination—than those who didn’t watch the episodes."

In a previous post in this blog, "Sesame Street: When Is Something Better Than Nothing?", a meta analysis of the effects of Sesame Street on early childhood education in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology was highlighted. The paper, "Effects of Sesame Street: A meta-analysis of children's learning in 15 countries", concludes with the number 12:
"The counter-factual causal reasoning implies that the hypothetical average child who watched Sesame Street would be at roughly the 62nd percentile, whereas if that hypothetical average child had not watched, he or she would (by definition) be at the 50th percentile."
In a country like Bangladesh, where Sesame Street is one of the very few intentional early childhood education intervention, the show translates into a full year of learning. If Sesame Street can do this for reading, it is probably worth a try in science.


  1. I wonder if we can use this research to improve science education in the Philippines.

  2. It is not yet clear if it works. But in the Philippines where early childhood education leaves a lot to be desired, something may be better than nothing. In the United States, as noted by several studies, the problem with science education happens at a much later stage, sometime during the end of elementary school and beginning of middle school - Sesame Street does not address this age group.


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