Matthew Wisnioski

Associate Professor, Department of Science, Technology, and Society, Virginia Tech

2021 to 2022
NEH Postdoctoral Fellow

The Magic School Bus and the Reanimation of Science Education

This project uses The Magic School Bus (MSB) multimedia enterprise to study transformations in American science education from the 1980s to the present. Reaching millions of children, MSB was a breakthrough effort to enhance scientific literacy by utilizing animation to help kids become scientific explorers. MSB also was an experiment in how to fund and develop scientific communication with partnerships between educators, publishers, federal agencies, tech companies, and museums. The project draws on multiple CHSTM sites, especially the University of Pennsylvania and the Smithsonian Institution, to document MSB’s creation, reception, and impact. The resulting coauthored book will advance history of science scholarship by situating the MSB in contested corporate and public efforts to use new media for science education; by showing how the government and its educational and business partners produced the show and its networked activities; and by exploring the role of animation in MSB’s pedagogical, ideological, and economic goals.