Pollock’s Health and Science Show for Kids to Pilot on WQED-TV

Posted on September 1, 2010

The pilot of a new TV show on health literacy, created by Dr. John Pollock, associate professor of biology in the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, will air on Pittsburgh’s PBS affiliate WQED-TV this week.

Habiba and Leah on the set of Scientastic!

For this latest project, Pollock has partnered with David Caldwell of Planet Earth Television to produce a live-action, 30-minute Scientastic! pilot targeting older elementary and middle school children and their parents as active participants in their own health and lifestyle choices. Scientastic! will air on WQED:

  • Thursday, Sept. 2, 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
  • Friday, Sept. 3, 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Sept. 5, noon, 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 7, 5 p.m.

Besides being aired on WQED, the show is available on DVD for use in schools in the greater Pittsburgh area, along with companion teaching resources at www.ScientasticTV.com.

In the pilot, Sticks and Stones, Habiba (daughter of the School of Education’s Dr. Rodney Hobson), the best friend of the main character, 12-year-old Leah, breaks her arm at soccer practice because she is pushed by a group of mean girls. Leah springs into action, going to the library, doctors’ offices, research labs and museums to learn about bones. With her little brother in tow, Leah learns how bones heal, and how nutrition and exercise affect bone strength and repair, as well as how stem cells and tissue engineering will one day help bones heal faster. The pilot episode also addresses bullying in a constructive way.

Pollock uses real doctors and scientists from the Pittsburgh area as information storehouses and as entertainment for the kids—in some episodes, the doctors sing and dance right alongside the actors. The show includes original songs, dance sequences and 3-D and 2-D animations created by Pollock’s team at Duquesne and the local animators at Home Run Pictures. Additional creative input came from other collaborators, including Patricia Maurides at Carnegie Mellon University.

The pilot is directed by Emmy-Award winner Leo Eaton, who is known for co-creating and directing the PBS hit show Zoboomafoo, and is written by Zoboomafoo Emmy-Award winning writer Mike Erskine-Kellie. Besides using choreographed animated interludes, the pilot also engaged student actors and dancers from Pittsburgh’s Creative and Performing Arts school.

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