WKAR Original Television Series Goes Beyond TV and into Research

Jan 9, 2017

The WKAR Public Media original television series Curious Crew may be fun and entertaining for kids interested in science, but through a research effort in collaboration with the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences (ComArtSci) the show strives to achieve much more than entertainment.

“Viewership and feedback from the community can let us know if the show is entertaining, but without specific research, it's hard to know if we're moving the mark on our educational and accessibility goals,” said WKAR Interim Director of Broadcasting and General Manager Susi Elkins.

Curious Crew allows inquisitive kids to take a hands-on approach to investigating principles of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with award-winning educator Rob Stephenson.

This new research project will not only benefit WKAR and its viewers but also the current and future ComArtSci faculty.

“Faculty typically test research ideas in a laboratory or with a small group of students,” said ComArtSci Dean Prabu David. “With the growing partnership between WKAR and ComArtSci faculty, researchers can test ideas with a larger sample that includes the whole WKAR audience.”

Assistant Professor and AT&T Scholar Rabindra Ratan and his research team have done just that by working diligently for the past two years to present the STEM Game Crew website; a unique website that offers a scientific method-based approach to the curation of STEM games.

“It's so exciting for WKAR to be working with ComArtSci faculty and researchers,” said Elkins. “This new website will help us understand if there's a connection between science learning and digital gaming, while also extending the value of the show.”

Learn more about the STEM Game Crew website and innovative research here.

The WKAR original television series was also used in a research project led by Professor Kenneth J. Levine, Associate Professor Vernon D. Miller from the Department of Communication, as well as  Associate Professor Elizabeth Taylor Quilliam and Assistant Professor Anna R. McAlister from the Department of Advertising + Public Relations.

Titled the Socialization to Science: The Case of Curious Crew, the research explores the impact of a science program designed for elementary and middle-school students and how it affects their perceptions of science and a possible career in STEM.

Learn­­ more about the Curious Crew research here.

“Susi and her team have been very supportive of faculty efforts,” said ComArtSci Dean Prabu David. “The WKAR team has created opportunities through Curious Crew that puts us at the forefront of research in children’s programming on science education.”