National Science Foundation
PEEP Continues to Captivate Preschoolers
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Peep and friends try to figure out why each one of them sees a different moon night after night.

Credit: WGBH
Permission Granted
State: Massachusetts

PEEP AND THE BIG WIDE WORLD, a daily, half-hour television series with accompanying Web and outreach activities for 2-to-5 year olds, gives wings to the innovative idea of teaching science to preschoolers. Funded by the Informal Science Education program, PEEP airs on TLC and the Discovery Kids Channels, with a theme song performed by Taj Mahal and narration by the award-winning actress Joan Cusack. The TV series features a chicken (the eponymous Peep), a robin (Chirp), and an endearingly egotistical duck (Quack). Each half-hour episode of the top-rated program for children ages 2-to-5--which airs during the TLC Channel's 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., Monday through Friday block--contains two animated stories that highlight specific science concepts and two live-action short segments that present real kids experimenting with these same concepts in their own lives.

With a seamless blend of story and science, PEEP's goals are (1) to engage preschoolers in science exploration that promotes positive attitudes and inquiry skills; (2) to empower parents to understand, encourage and support their children's science activities; and (3) to provide professional development for preschool educators via a curriculum that contributes to the emerging field of preschool science education.

PEEP is clearly meeting these goals. A recent third-party evaluation found that the PEEP TV show is effectively modeling science inquiry skills, including making predictions, observing and problem solving. When presented with identical materials to manipulate and freely explore, children exposed to PEEP interacted with the materials in ways that were significantly more grounded in science inquiry processes than children not previously exposed to the TV series.

PEEP is able to achieve this impact because of its community of collaborators, which include educational organizations (Head Start, 4-H, the National Education Association, Parents as Teachers), libraries (through the American Library Association), museums (via the Boston Children's Museum), and promotional media outlets. These collaborations have created a project that is truly innovative in all its deliverables, including a TV show that has a unique visual style, a Web site that is navigable by non-readers, and outreach activities that fulfill an important need for preschool science education.

Peep and the Big Wide World was 2005's Emmy Award-winner for Outstanding Children's Animated Program. The series also captured a Gold World Medal at the New York Festival's 2006 International Television Programming and Promotion Awards for children's programs (Ages 2-6 Category).

Partners: Head Start, 4-H, National Education Association, Parents As Teachers, Science Olympiad, Countdown to Kindergarten, American Library Association, Boston Children’s Museum, Discovery Communications

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Peep and friends discover a mucky, slimy, grimy way to cool off on a hot summer’s day.

Credit: WGBH
Permission Granted

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