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April 3, 2014

George Hazimanolis

Kids’ TV Show on Sleep, Created by Duquesne Professor,
to Air Locally and Across Country

PITTSBURGH – Aimed at eight to 13-year-olds, Scientastic! is part of the multifaceted multimedia science literacy efforts of Dr. John Pollock, associate professor of biological sciences at Duquesne University. Pollock, who conducts basic science research on the nervous system, also focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and health literacy. With this show, he explores issues surrounding the national trend toward the lack of sleep and its significant impact on our lives.

On Sunday, April 6 at 7 p.m., Scientastic! “ARE YOU SLEEPING? DORRMEZ VOUS?” premieres on WQED-TV and repeats on Sunday, April 13 at Noon.

The show starts with 14-year-old Cassie staying up all night to study for a math test that is ultimately a disaster. Beginning to see that every person in her family and most of her classmates could use more sleep, Cassie asks questions: Why didn’t she learn? And why do we sleep the way we do? She starts exploring the library and tracking down experts across the city, as she and her younger brother search for the answers by visiting a sleep lab, zoo, botanical gardens, an art studio, an observatory, even a cave.

According to the national Centers for Disease Control, most children need about 10 hours of quality sleep a night but typically get far less—and adults are no better. The lack of quality sleep profoundly affects our capacity to learn and make decisions. “Getting enough sleep helps us be better learners, evens out our emotions and helps us stay healthy in almost every way you can imagine,” noted Pollock.

Studies that Pollock and his team have conducted on Scientastic! indicate that the portrayal of inquisitive behavior positively impacts viewers—especially children—to become more confident in asking scientific questions and to be more likely to ask experts questions, improving their knowledge and their data-gathering skills.

The science is solid, but the singing and dancing add fun.

“I think if we realize that everyday science is all around us and that by exploring it, we can have even more fun knowing why things are the way they are,” Pollock said. “Just like we teach kids to play baseball, soccer or some other sport, it’s for the love of the game, for health and so they can enjoy it the rest of their lives. We don’t expect every one of them to grow up to be an Olympian or a pro. Science is the same: learn it for the fun and love of it, and enjoy learning the rest of your life.”

Produced in partnership with David Caldwell of Planet Earth Television, Scientastic! is presented by WQED Pittsburgh and is being distributed nationally by American Public Television (APT) to public television stations nationwide. Students from the Pittsburgh Public School’s Creative and Performing Arts magnet school and Winchester Thurston School add their skills to the production. Original support was provided by the Science Education Partnership Awards from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Education as well from the National Science Foundation and UPMC, among other funders.

To learn more about the show and the science behind the program, catch a sneak preview. Later, visit www.ScientasticTV.com.

About WQED
changes lives by creating and sharing outstanding public media that educates, entertains, and inspires. It is the parent company of WQED-TV (PBS); WQED: The Neighborhood Channel; WQED: The Create Channel; WQED Showcase; Classical WQED-FM 89.3/Pittsburgh; Classical WQEJ-FM 89.7/Johnstown; the Pittsburgh Concert Channel at WQED-HD2 (89.3-2FM) and online at www.wqed.org/fm; local and national television and radio productions; WQED Interactive (www.wqed.org) and iQ: smartmedia, WQED’s Educational initiative (www.wqed.org/edu).

About Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic research universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. www.duq.edu.

About American Public Television (APT)
American Public Television (APT)
has been a leading distributor of high-quality, top-rated programming to the nation’s public television stations since 1961. APT also has distributed about half of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles for nearly 10 years. Among its 300 new program titles per year, APT programs include prominent documentaries, news and current affairs programs, dramas, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies. America’s Test Kitchen From Cook’s Illustrated, Rick Steves’ Europe, Doc Martin, Nightly Business Report, Moyers & Company, NHK Newsline, Lidia’s Kitchen, Globe Trekker, Simply Ming, BBC World News and P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home join numerous documentaries and performance programs popular with public television viewers. APT licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service. Entering its 9th year, Create® TV — featuring the best of public television's lifestyle programming — is distributed by APT. APT also distributes WORLD™, public television’s premier news, science and documentary channel. To find out more about APT’s programs and services, visit APTonline.org.

To schedule interviews with Dr. John Pollock, please contact:

• Rose Ravasio at 412-396-6051 or via cell at 412-818-0234
• Karen Ferrick-Roman at 412-396-1154 or via cell at 412-736-1877

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