When you’re a trio of superpowered kindergarteners tasked with saving the world on a weekly basis, you’ve got to use every tool in the old toybox. Thankfully for an animated world constantly in peril, this year’s rebooted Powerpuff Girls have picked up a few new tricks along the way.
Blue-eyed, pig-tailed sister Bubbles, for one, has kept up with the times by learning to code – a fact that plays a key role in this week’s episode of the program, along with Cartoon Network’s recent efforts to help foster STEM skills among their young viewers.
“We knew early on when we were creating the series that this was going to be one of Bubbles’ character traits,” Cartoon Network president Christina Miller told TechCrunch. “Over the course of this first season, you’re finding out that Bubbles is quite a proficient coder. This week, there’s an episode called ‘Viral Spiral’ that will launch the first of a couple of episodes where you see her using her coding skills to save the world before bedtime.”
The episode, which premiers Thursday at 6:30PM ET/PT, will coincide with the launch of “Make it Fly,” an initiate between the network and MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group that will provide young viewers tools to code Powerpuff animations and games using the popular educational programming language, Scratch.
“We’re willing to give our IP away in order to put it in kids’ hands and help them be creators,” says Miller. “That takes a certain comfort level and understanding that kids want choice and control. We’ll do a free tutorial around how to code and give them assets to code. We’ll give a suite of assets to Scratch to post and let the kids have their way with them. It inspires us to see what they do with it.”
The Powerpuff Girls is the second Cartoon Network show to launch a Scratch initiative, following the lead of the channel’s We Bare Bears, a series based on a popular webcomic. “That was our first execution with the folks at Scratch, where we were able to give them a series of assets that attach to our IP and just give it away to kids and let them start coding and creating projects around it,” Miller adds. “I think the early numbers were probably around 10,000 projects created in a short period of time. That was everything from walk cycles to little games.”
Coding tutorials for both shows and a flying taco can be found at www.cartoonnetwork.com/Scratch.