The Atlantic

The STEM Superhero of Sesame Street

How and why the lovable, mistake-prone Grover was selected to teach children about science, technology, and math
Source: Richard Termine / Sesame Workshop

It was a crazy idea, and even today no one is sure who thought of it.

It was the researchers. No, the screenwriters. Or maybe the advisers? Whomever it was, seven years ago, dozens of Sesame Workshop team members were sitting in a room preparing for the 41st season of Sesame Street. The mission was to create episodes that would teach children about STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math.

That meant incorporating STEM throughout the show’s classic street scenes. But the team also wanted a character to embody the ideas of STEM in separate segments. Which furry, wide-eyed Muppet could pull it off?

It was a critical question for a critical moment. Research showed young children didn’t have a good understanding of their natural environment. American students scored lower on science and math tests than their international peers. The previous year, then-President Barack Obama began the Educate to Innovate campaign to boost math and science education.

One of the most influential media platforms for early-childhood education, Sesame Street needed a smart teacher, a brilliant scientist, a savvy engineer. It needed … Grover?  

“Grover is a wonderful character, he’s such an innocent, but he’s so not knowledgeable about STEM,” said the Sesame

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