Teaching Kids Science With Sid the Science Kid

Photo of Sid from the PBS show Sid the Science Kid
Photo of Sid from the PBS show Sid the Science Kid

When I was growing up, one big investment my parents made for me and my siblings was a World Book Encyclopedia set, accompanied by a library of Childcraft topical books designed for kids. I remember spending countless hours reading about outer space, plants and animals, the geology of planet Earth, weather systems, and the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, to name a few subjects. And the science experiments – I could never forget the science experiments. These books made a huge impact on me as a learner and deepened my curiosity of the world.

That’s why I’m so excited to cultivate a similar love for learning in our two boys. When Kael (3.5 years old) asks me a ton of  “how” or “why” questions, I’m delighted. I do my best to avoid pat answers, and on a number of occasions I’ve happily said “That’s a great question, Kael. I don’t know the answer, but let’s find out together.” This often leads to a trip to the laptop and a search on Google or YouTube, where we can hear what a fox sounds like or see what a dinosaur may have looked like.

So, I was thrilled after seeing a few episodes of  Jim Henson’s Sid the Science Kid on PBS. It’s science concepts for pre-schools, and it’s awesome.

Educational Philosophy

Sid the Science Kid is based on the fact that preschoolers are natural scientists, always on a quest to discover and learn. Each episode focuses on a curious four year old named Sid. Every morning he asks a different question (Why do bananas get mushy? Why are my shoes shrinking? How do birds fly, and why can’t I?), which he explores with his family, friends, and preschool teacher using the scientific method:

  • Observing objects, events, and people
  • Asking questions
  • Finding words to describe observations and to communicate ideas
  • Exploring and investigating to try to answer questions
  • Using science tools to observe and measure
  • Recording observations using simple drawings and basic charts
  • Using what they have observed, measured, and recorded to predict what might happen next and to ask more questions

The content in Sid is based on national science learning standards, cognitive learning theory, and The Preschool Pathways to Science curriculum. According to PBS’s educational philosophy page for Sid, these are the main goals for the show:

  • To encourage children to think, talk and work the way scientists do by building on preschoolers’ natural curiosity about the world.
  • To show that science is all around us – we all interact with and are capable of learning about scientific concepts.
  • To contribute to school readiness by fostering children’s intellectual skills, motivation to learn, and confidence in themselves as learners.
  • To support children’s learning by partnering with parents and teachers to create a “climate of curiosity” for children.

Needless to say, I’m very impressed. I have fond memories of watching 3-2-1 Contact during my elementary school years, so I’m happy there’s a research-based show that will encourage my boys’ curiosity and desire to learn. Highly recommended.

The Technology

An aside on something I found interested: Sid is filmed using a technique its creators call digital puppetry that allows them to finish an episode in about the same time as a typical sitcom. The resulting look is definitely computer generated, but has a fluid, more human-like quality to it. The behind-the-scenes video below gives you a good idea of how the technology works.

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