Introducing ‘Curious Crew’ a new original series from WKAR




EAST LANSING, MI —  Take a hands-on approach to scientific exploration with host Rob Stephenson and a cast of inquisitive kids as Curious Crew comes to mid-Michigan television in November. The new original series from WKAR debuts Monday, Nov. 3, at 5:30 p.m. on WKAR-HD (23.1).

Curious Crew features a cast of young explorers from across mid-Michigan, guided by award-winning educator Rob Stephenson. The setting is Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing, Mich. It all adds up to new, local television aimed at helping young learners make connections to basic concepts of science, technology, engineering and math — what educators call the STEM subjects.
Each episode leads off with a fun demonstration that ends with an unexpected twist. It gets us wondering, how does that work? Then Rob and the Curious Crew set about exploring, experimenting and finding some answers.
Each show also features a STEM Challenge. It’s a hands-on project that the Curious Crew tackles on the show, and that young science explorers can try at home or in the classroom. In the end, each episode concludes with the signature sign-off from the crew to “Stay Curious!”
Rob Stephenson has a natural ease working with the students on the crew and guiding us all through concepts from simple to challenging. That should come as no surprise. He is a 2010 National Teacher of the Year finalist, 2009-2010 Michigan Teacher of the Year, and 2006 winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. He served as principal at Donley Elementary School in East Lansing, Mich., from 2012 to 2014 and is currently STEM consultant for Ingham Intermediate School District.
“After twenty years in education, kids continue to amaze me with their innovation and problem solving,” says Stephenson. “I am eager for this opportunity to share my passion for STEM education with a larger number of students, families, and teachers.  It is so much fun to learn through hands-on discovery, so I am hopeful that everyone will remember to ‘Keep experimenting!'”
Curious Crew members range in age from 8 to 14, and come to the show from across mid-Michigan. In July 2014, more than 250 young scientists came to the WKAR studios to try out for a role with the new television show.
More than 30 of those who auditioned were selected to appear across the eight episodes of this first season and be a part of the street team that makes appearances in our community. Cast and street team members hail from Lansing, East Lansing, St. Johns, Milford, Fowlerville, Charlotte, Grand Ledge, Rockford and more — truly a cross-section of mid-Michigan.
For a look at the Curious Crew casting call, check out the video Curious Crew Auditions from WKAR’s Kelley Waterfall:
Production for the series took place on location at Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing, Mich., during the months of July and August 2014.
Mid-Michigan business and education communities have shown that they see value in this new local series with a focus on STEM education. This first season of Curious Crew has drawn financial support from Michigan STEM Partnership, Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, TechSmith, Fifth Third Bank, The John E. Fetzer Institute Fund of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Capital Area District Libraries, LAFCU, Granger, My Blend – Michigan Virtual University and more.
Full episodes are available after the debut broadcast for on-demand viewing in the PBS app/channel on Roku, XBox 360, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, iPad/iPhone and in the PBS Video player at
Keep experimenting and stay curious!
Episode Premiere Schedule
First air 5:30 p.m. Monday 11/3/14
A magic ping pong ball, invisible soda and floating eggs? Explore the concept of molecular density, and an object’s ability to change density based upon its temperature.  Concepts of buoyancy and displacement are connected as well. STEM Challenge: design and build a life preserver prototype — for a soup can!  Episode 101.
Sound Vibrations
First air 5:30 p.m. Monday 11/10/14
Rubberband boogie, space phones and magic spoons? Explore the concept of sound energy resulting from vibrations. Investigate sound’s ability to travel through different media in transverse and longitudinal waves. STEM Challenge: build a Cymatic Demonstrator to visualize sound waves. Episode 102.
Air Pressure
First air 5:30 p.m. Monday 11/17/14
A can crusher, sipping races and an eggciting bottle? Explore the power of air pressure and the fact that air at sea level exerts a pressure of 14.7 pounds per square inch or 1 kilogram per square centimeter.  STEM Challenge: design and build an air pressure car. Episode 103
Gasses Take Up Space
First air 5:30 p.m. Monday 11/24/14
A balloon in a bottle, building a lung and bubbles? Explore the positive properties of air, namely gases take up space, that they take the shape of the space that they are in, that its effects are visible on solids and liquids, and that matter cannot occupy the same space.  STEM Challenge: build a spirometer to measure lung capacity. Episode 104.
First air 5:30 p.m. Monday 12/1/14
A slow poke magnet, chaotic pendulum and opposing grapes? Explore magnetic fields and the characteristics that make ferromagnetic and diamagnetic materials, including Lenz’s Law.  STEM Challenge: design and build a linear magnetic accelerator. Episode 105.
Chemical Reactions
First air 5:30 p.m. Monday 12/8/14
Color-changing breath, chemical goo and elephant toothpaste? Explore chemical reactions and discover how hydrogen molecules break and fuse to create new compounds as evidenced by color changes, released gases, the emission of heat or light, or an altered state of matter.  STEM Challenge: build bottle cars powered by a chemical reaction. Episode 106.
Thermal Energy
First air 5:30 p.m. Monday 12/15/14
An unpoppable balloon, spinning soda and a simple steam boat? Explore thermal energy and how different materials conduct heat.  STEM Challenge: use a variety of materials to develop ice cube thermos prototypes to reduce heat loss and evaluate the cost of the design. Episode 107.
First air 5:30 p.m. Monday 12/22/14
Rock vs. paper, accelerating washers and drop it, don’t break it. Explore gravity and how an object’s mass determines its force of gravity and the accelerating rate with which things fall. STEM Challenge: design and build a protective container for a raw egg to withstand a fall and impact on pavement. Episode 108.
Schedules and episode details are subject to change.
This was printed in the November 2, 2014 – November 15, 2014 edition.