9272 Views (as of 05/2023)
  1. Borgna Brunner
  2. Editorial Project Director
  4. WGBH Educational Foundation
  1. Megan Silander
  2. http://cct.edc.org/people/silander-megan
  3. Researcher
  5. Education Development Center

Bringing Science Home with PEEP

NSF Awards: 1612643

2018 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6, Informal / multi-age

Public media producers from WGBH and researchers from EDC have collaborated on Bringing Science Home with PEEP, which offers low-income parents in home-visiting programs a rich preschool science curriculum. Home visiting programs support parents who don’t have the opportunity to send their children to preschool with educational resources they can use at home.

This initiative builds on the NSF-funded and Emmy Award-winning animated science show, PEEP and the Big Wide World. Each month-long, in-depth science unit comes in an app and features hands-on activities, PEEP videos, and print and video-based educator guides.

EDC is testing these free resources with parents and educators from two long-established home-visiting programs, HIPPY and AVANCE. Testing is taking place in English and Spanish in Texas and Arkansas.


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Discussion from the 2018 STEM for All Video Showcase (16 posts)
  • Icon for: Megan Silander

    Megan Silander

    May 14, 2018 | 01:28 p.m.

    Thank you for your interest in Bringing Science Home with PEEP! We are just wrapping up our second year of the project, in which we developed and piloted three media-based units of study with families through two home visiting programs.  We are eager to hear from you about the ideas or questions our video and project raise in the context of your own work.  Some questions about which we are particularly interested in hearing your thoughts:


    • What are the biggest challenges you see in reaching out and engaging pre-school age children and their families in science, ans what kinds of supports do families need to do science with their young children?
    • If you use media or technology with your audience, what steps do you take to ensure all families/educators/students can access your resources?  
    • How can media experiences best connect families to science?
  • Icon for: Anushree Bopardikar

    Anushree Bopardikar

    May 14, 2018 | 03:29 p.m.

    Thank you for providing us with glimpses into an important area of science education! I understand from the video that your project is working with two home visiting programs. I am curious whether your team experienced any challenges in recruiting participants to pilot the units. Also, what key considerations about home learning settings (resources available in those settings and/or potential barriers) did your team take into account to develop and implement the units? 

  • Icon for: Megan Silander

    Megan Silander

    May 15, 2018 | 09:18 a.m.

    Thanks for your question! For this project, we used a participatory design-based implementation research (DBIR) approach, in which the home visiting organizations (HIPPY and AVANCE) partnered with us during the design and research process. So in addition to providing feedback about the prototypes and research process, they also recruited families to pilot the intervention. Having home educators explain and support the pilot with families helped the recruitment process enormously. We’ll know more in a few months as we wrap up analyses about how successful we were. 


     A central consideration in designing for families to use the intervention in their homes was ensuring access to the media resources. We found that while almost all families in our early pilots had access to smartphones, many did not have reliable internet access. As a result, WGBH developed an app that families could download each month and use offline. We also piloted a lending tablet library for families with no technology. A second consideration was language and ensuring that families with limited literacy skills or who spoke Spanish would be able to access the materials. We went through a few rounds of simplifying the language in our materials based on parent and educator feedback. We also rely on videos to model the activities as another means to explain how to do the activities. And the app is also available in Spanish and English. And finally, we wanted to make sure families would be able to do the hands-on activities without any special materials, so most of the activities incorporate everyday items like toilet paper rolls or drink bottles.

    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Anushree Bopardikar
  • Icon for: Stephen Uzzo

    Stephen Uzzo

    Chief Scientist
    May 15, 2018 | 07:55 a.m.

    Nicely done video clip, well produced and concise. Wondering whether part of the DBR includes how well the participants construct knowledge and devise their own experiments based on the concepts presented in the video program. It looks like they are trying out different materials and techniques in the Showcase video clip, but I'm curious. Also, the degree to which inquiry is used in the discourse between the parent and child; meaning how are the parents encouraged to surface participating children's knowledge, as opposed to giving them answers, which is a common problem in child-parent interactions. Finally, will the study be published or available online?

  • Icon for: Borgna Brunner

    Borgna Brunner

    Lead Presenter
    Editorial Project Director
    May 16, 2018 | 11:24 a.m.

    Stephen, thanks for your comments and your questions about how PEEP encourages science inquiry and deeper experimentation. Both the science activities and the prompts that encourage parent-child science conversations are scaffolded. They’re meant for parents who are brand new to science as well as for parents looking for richer, more expansive science experiences.

    Science Inquiry Activities

    The main activity for each day offers a short, step-by-step science investigation, along with inquiry-based prompts. Then we invite parents to build on the original activity, by substituting new materials, for example, or by trying an indoor activity in an outdoor setting. At the end of the activity, parents are encouraged to get creative and come up with their own ideas for related science experiences, based on what especially excited and engaged their children. We are conducting observations of families as they engage in the activities to try to gain an understanding of how well parents are able to do these kinds of extensions and will have a better sense of how this worked as we wrap up our study this summer and fall.

    Supporting Science Inquiry through Discourse

    Each PEEP science activity comes with a set of open-ended questions. As you point out, it’s common for parents to jump in and supply their children with answers rather than giving them the chance to think things through for themselves. Because of this, and because it’s challenging (for ALL of us) to formulate open-ended questions, we offer parents a set of scripted questions that model inquiry-based science. More experienced parents may use the scripted questions as a springboard for their own questions.

    Alongside these scripted prompts, we offer more open-ended “parent strategies” to help parents generate their own conversations. For example:

    • Ask questions to help your child think more about the activity. Start a question by asking, “What do you think . . .”
    • Talk aloud about your ideas so your child can learn from listening to you. Start by saying “I wonder . . . ,” “I think . . . ,” and “What if . . .?”
    • Take turns listening and speaking.
    • Connect what you are doing to something your child already knows.
    • Take pictures or videos, make charts or draw pictures of the activities. To learn, children need to reflect on (think about) what they’ve done.

    EDC expects to share the findings from Bringing Science Home with PEEP online in the fall of 2018.

  • Lisa Foehner

    May 15, 2018 | 12:56 p.m.

    It’s exciting to see an app that brings parent and child together and directly involves parents in their child’s early science learning. This aligns well with the Parents as Teachers model that brings a developmentally appropriate parent-child activity on every personal visit.

  • Icon for: Borgna Brunner

    Borgna Brunner

    Lead Presenter
    Editorial Project Director
    May 16, 2018 | 11:28 a.m.

    Thanks, Lisa! We’re delighted to hear that Parents as Teachers is enthusiastic about the PEEP app.

    Each unit of science (Colors, Ramps, Sounds, and Shadows) has its own app, and includes all the videos and hands-on activities parents need to do four weeks of science. Once the app is downloaded to their phones, parents can use it offline: WIFI or data plans aren't necessary. The apps are available in English or Spanish.

  • Icon for: Lisa Miller

    Lisa Miller

    May 15, 2018 | 09:49 p.m.

    Nice video! Thanks for sharing it.  The video mentioned there are four science units and the colors unit was displayed in the video.  I'm curious what the other three units are and if you have plans to add additional units? Also, are the units aligned with the kindergarten Next Generation Science Standards? I'm thinking about kindergarten readiness. Thanks!

  • Icon for: Borgna Brunner

    Borgna Brunner

    Lead Presenter
    Editorial Project Director
    May 16, 2018 | 11:38 a.m.

    Lisa, thanks for your comments! The four units we're developing are Colors, Ramps and Movement, Sounds, and Shadows, and each is a month long. The units focus on many of the NGSS practices, such as carrying out investigations, constructing explanations, and analyzing and interpreting data. They also address outcomes in the Head Start Early Learning Framework.

    In this study, our focus is to develop and test science resources in collaboration with home visiting programs—and to create resources that work for families and educators within the structure of these existing programs. Many home visiting organizations emphasize literacy and socio-emotional development and focus somewhat less on science education—PEEP hopes to fill that gap.  Beyond this study, our long-term aspiration would be to develop a nine-month science curriculum for home visiting organizations.

  • Icon for: Debra Bernstein

    Debra Bernstein

    Senior Researcher
    May 16, 2018 | 02:44 p.m.

    This is a great video, thanks for sharing!  I noticed that all of the family participants in your video were parent-child dyads, but I imagine that actual home use isn't limited to dyads. Have you noticed that other family members, like siblings outside of your target age range, also tend to get into (or want to get involved with) the activities?  Can your materials accommodate that type of involvement? 

  • Icon for: Megan Silander

    Megan Silander

    May 17, 2018 | 02:13 p.m.

    Hi Debra, thank you for your question. The hands-on activities are flexible enough to allow for multiple family members to participate (and in some cases the activities directly encourage participation of more family members).  We've just completed three months of testing with families and have heard from some families that siblings or other adults in the household are participating in some of the activities.

  • Icon for: Judy Brown

    Judy Brown

    Informal Educator
    May 16, 2018 | 05:10 p.m.

    Loved your video!  Important work and am so pleased to see the emphasis on working with families with limited resources. Have  a few  quick implementation questions:

    Are the  apps   designed to stand alone or  to be used in conjunction with the TV show? Have you run into access issues re smart hones? 

    Do your Spanish  speaking families have a preference for using the app in Spanish or English? I ask this as in our experience many non English speaking parents are anxious for their children to learn English in preparation for school.

    In your pilot are you  providing the related materials for the  hands-on activities? If so, how to you hope to sustain this in the future?

  • Icon for: Borgna Brunner

    Borgna Brunner

    Lead Presenter
    Editorial Project Director
    May 17, 2018 | 12:09 p.m.

    Thanks, Judy! These are thoughtful questions that really take into account the families we are trying to reach.

    The app and the PEEP TV show

    The app is designed to encourage joint media engagement and features episodes from the PEEP TV show along with related hands-on science activities. It’s a “one-stop app,” containing all the PEEP videos (with viewing questions) and the hands-on activity instructions in one place. This makes it easy for parents to use—no need to toggle between watching a video on the web and then turning to the app for the hands-on activity.

    Access Issues 

    We discovered early on in the study that the majority of parents belonging to home visiting organizations had significant connectivity issues. Few had high-speed Internet, few had computers, and most relied on mobile devices with data plans. That made delivering a multi-media science curriculum challenging. Expecting parents to access the materials from the PEEP website wasn’t going to work if their Internet was unreliable and the videos kept cutting out. What's the point of offering "Bringing Science Home with PEEP" if parents can't use it at home?

    The PEEP app solves this problem by making all the materials downloadable to parents’ smart phones. Each app includes all the videos and hands-on activities parents need to do four weeks of science, twice a week. Once the app is downloaded to their phones, parents can use it completely offline: WIFI or using their data plans (which gets expensive) are no longer necessary. Parents who were part of the study typically downloaded the app using the WIFI at their home visiting organization, through a hot spot, or at a McDonald's or library. The app can be downloaded within a minute from a newer phone; older smartphones take a few minutes. There are still a few families that do not have smart phones and we are trouble-shooting this issue in a few ways—providing print-outs of the hands-on activities and lending tablets for use, for example.  

    Spanish Speaking Families

    We are still gathering data about this, but our sense is that most Spanish-speaking families used the Spanish app. We hypothesize that this may be in part because one of the home visiting organizations that we partnered with, AVANCE, spends a lot of time encouraging parents to use rich Spanish-language vocabulary with their children—and we have heard from Spanish-speaking families that they value the science vocabulary that PEEP Family Science introduces. But we are also finding that a few parents used the English-language app instead. And children sometimes wanted to watch the PEEP episodes in English rather than Spanish.  

    Materials for the Hands-on Activities

    To make PEEP work for low-income families, we designed science activities that use inexpensive, ordinary household items, and we also suggest substitutions. This is where the home visiting organization’s support is crucial—we’ll need to rely on them to help parents improvise if they are missing something or to help supply the materials (purchasing poster paints or chalk in bulk, for example, or putting out the word to have members of the organization pitch in and collect cardboard boxes and tubes).


  • Icon for: Judy Brown

    Judy Brown

    Informal Educator
    May 17, 2018 | 05:07 p.m.

    Think you’ve nailed it! Bravo!!

  • Icon for: Rachel Yim

    Rachel Yim

    May 21, 2018 | 01:33 p.m.

    What a wonderful project! Do you have future plans to expand the program to include older children?

  • Nicole Baumann

    Undergraduate Student
    May 21, 2018 | 04:51 p.m.

    Love this video! 

    Tying in an unfamiliar concept with a widely known media source is a great strategy to use with young children. I believe this program will work well for not only the children, but the parents as well. And allowing children to see Science done outside of the classroom and in the real world is extremely important for that authentic learning and real life connections!

    I am curious though, is the app the only way for parents to gain access to this? 

    Also, is it available to meet the needs of a variety of age groups? I believe most families will have children in a wide range of ages and it would be more convenient for them to work on one activity with all children. Maybe add extensions for activities to reach a higher age level?

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.