At the centre of The Solutioneers is its strong-willed and passionate leader, Riley. Once a troublemaker who had her fair share of run-ins with the school principal, her life changed the day she was partnered with two unique and special tutors, Gwen and Ava. With their help and guidance, Riley discovered how fun and incredible STEAM could be. Together, they formed a club called The Solutioneers and turned the school’s tricked-out storage room into their personal makerspace.
Not only are the characters in The Solutioneers smart and creative change-makers, they also bring their unique personalities and passions to every project they embark on – infusing their love of photography, animals, comic books, and sport into everything they do. They are strong, dynamic, and above all, human characters – always striving to learn, grow, and lend a helping hand. The series teaches kids not to be afraid of the unknown: “it just means there’s something new to discover”.
The characters, storylines, and scenarios feature empowered and engaged girls using different areas of STEAM to solve challenges and engage with opportunities in school and in their personal lives. The series is complemented by ancillary content featuring real life STEAM Stars and activities that kids can recreate at home. For season 1, education partner Let’s Talk Science produced DIY activities that aligned with each episode of the series, which helped kids learn the STEAM principle used in the episode through a hands-on activity.
The Solutioneers represents an egregiously under-represented area for young girls in education; STEAM. It’s perfect for girls at an age where they are starting to lose interest in STEAM. An important shift in shows that feature STEAM has been the perception of characters like computer geniuses, coders and inventors. More and more, these characters are being portrayed as cool, moving away from the ‘unpopular kid’ stereotype. The Solutioneers is definitely part of this shift with relatable and empowering characters who have fun with STEAM and use it to help each other and make a difference in the world.
The diverse cast across various ethnicities and abilities allows more kids to be able to see themselves reflected on screen. The series shows a simple and direct portrayal of a way in which kids can accept each other and not see their appearance, ability or other open signifier as what defines them as a person. The Solutioneers teaches kids the value of cooperation and teamwork; that everyone has specific strengths and passions and things they can bring to the table; that failure and obstacles on your way to success are part of the process of learning; that trial and error are integral to discovery; that STEAM can change the world; and that girls are on the same level as anyone else in the STEAM world.
The producers at Shaftesbury love to see how their content resonates with the audience and how they can use technology to widen audience reach and democratise access to learning. For example, education partner Let’s Talk Science is using the scripted episodes and ancillary content in classrooms across Canada and provides guidelines for educators about how the series aligns with curriculums in various provinces. Through a partnership with Nelson, the series was integrated with the Google for the Education Partner Program, empowering students and educators to bring technology and trusted content to classrooms across Canada.
One of the cast member’s fathers teaches grade 1-5 and has incorporated the episodes as part of his lesson plans. Many of his students wanted to be like the characters in the show and wanted to see more – and they were thrilled when one of the characters from The Solutioneers made a guest appearance at their school!
“As producers of kids content, we have a unique opportunity to raise awareness and show young viewers how fun and cool learning can be, whether it’s a new language, culture or hobby,” says the Shaftesbury team. “We hope to make a positive impact on kids’ outlook that will spark a lifelong love for discovery and adventure.”
What’s coming next:
- To help kids get excited about back to school and reengage with learning, Shaftesbury will be releasing a free activity book in association with Let’s Talk Science, featuring 10 fun and fascinating STEAM-based activities that kids and their families can complete from home. It will be available to download and print starting August 29, 2021.
- ‘Brain Busters’ is a brand-new series featuring the cast from the show. Launching alongside The Solutioneers Season 2 in September, young viewers will dive deeper into the concepts in the scripted series and learn super-fun factoids from the world of STEAM.
- In Fall 2021, Shaftesbury will be releasing Inspiring Minds, a brand-new video series in which The Solutioneers and their friends interview awesome real-world champions from the realms of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.
Special thanks to education partner Let’s Talk Science.