ComArtSci and WKAR collaboration encourages STEM careers among young students

Posted at 10:14 AM, Jan 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-31 10:14:42-05

A new collaborative research project between WKAR Public Media and the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences is exploring how children are encouraged to think of science, technology, engineering and math disciplines as potential career paths.

The WKAR original television series, Curious Crew, was used to measure how student perceptions of science-related fields can be influenced. Designed for elementary and middle school audiences, Curious Crew allows children to investigate these STEM principles using a hands-on approach.

“We wanted to gain a better understanding of how science-focused programming for children might help enhance their interest in learning about these topics and pursuing careers in STEM areas,” said Elizabeth Taylor Quilliam, associate professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations.

In partnership with Owosso and Okemos school districts, the study was led by Quilliam and her colleagues including assistant professor Anna McAlister from the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, and both professor Kenneth Levine and associate professor Vernon Miller from the Department of Communication.

“We're so excited that professors Quilliam and Levine are using their expertise to help us learn as much as we can about how students are interacting with the show and what we can do to improve the experience and academic value,” said Susi Elkins, WKAR general manager and interim director of broadcasting.

By watching a show like Curious Crew that "makes science come alive," the study found that children are able to envision themselves as scientists in the future.

Matt Friend, fourth grade chair at Bryant Elementary School, said the research has been positively received by parents who want to increase their children’s participation in science-related activities. The project also encouraged students to attend the Girls STEM Day hosted by the MSU College of Engineering this past October.

“Curious Crew is a fun and entertaining show, but it's more than that,” Elkins said. “We really want to have an impact on kids’ lives and inspire them to look for science in everyday experiences so that they are constantly learning about the world around them.”

For more information on the Curious Crew series and to stay informed on the progress of this research, visit