In the weeks since that conversation I have been trying to push past the nostalgia and look at the show from the perspective of an adult and a science communicator. And as many books or articles as I have read about the power of storytelling, I have found no more compelling argument than my own experience scrolling through the episode list for a show I had not watched in 20 years. I don’t just remember the “Gets Lost in Space” episode, I can almost see the moment when Janet refuses to get back in the bus without all of the proof she collected from other planets throughout their trip. I can hear Phoebe’s voice saying “at my old school.” I can mentally watch Ms. Frizzle’s face turn red while rowing and holding her breath during her competition against the gym teacher. Frictionless baseball can unfailingly make me smile. I remember the stories.
And I remember that, even though Ms. Frizzle may have been my hero, she was almost never the hero of the day. Looking back, I am amazed at how much she is part of an ensemble. Her role is often to be, in the best possible sense, an enabler. If the kids in her class come up with an idea, she throws herself in with them. She trusts them to make decisions. She doesn’t just observe or instruct. Her tagline doesn’t even include the word science, instead telling her students to, “take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” She happily embraces that her fate is tied to theirs. And when their decisions end up with her getting lost in space or trapped inside a physics book, she trusts them to come to the rescue. That provides the kids with agency, responsibility, and the ability to take actions that really matter.
Each Tuesday is EducationTuesday here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts about educators and all things STEM. Adafruit supports our educators and loves to spread the good word about educational STEM innovations!
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Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.