Why Your New Favorite Science Class Just Dropped on Netflix

An Interview with Emily Calandrelli, co-Creator & Host of Emily’s Wonder Lab

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“Emily wants us to make florescent paint,” exclaims a young scientist delightedly in the first sixty seconds of the show. “Could she be any cooler?!”

Not really, no.

Parents panicking about home-schooling STEAM classes this fall – relax. Take a breath. Emily’s Wonder Lab just dropped on Netflix, turning your house into a virtual science lab and your kids into the newest young innovators to watch.

With 10 episodes, each under 15-minutes and available to stream immediately, Season 1 of Emily’s Wonder Lab combines mind-blowing TV experiments (think exploding rainbow horse toothpaste or air cannon bowling) with clever projects kids can complete with a parent at home (building clouds in a bottle and barfing pumpkins). Fast-moving, hilarious and packed with science content, the show engages today’s kids while refusing for one moment to underestimate them.

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Much of that vibe is due to the show’s co-creator and host, Emily Calandrelli – otherwise known as @the spacegal. This MIT engineer is used to breaking down complex science concepts for kids, appearing on shows like Bill Nye Saves the World, hosting, executive producing and receiving an Emmy nod for Xploration Outer Space, and authoring the Ada Lace young reader series – a volume of which was actually sent into space last year. Put simply, Emily is a STEM role model kids will watch all day.

Être was lucky enough to have interviewed Emily once before with mentorship questions from middle school girls, so when we heard about the show we had to know more. Below is an excerpt from Être’s Q&A with Emily the night before her Netflix series premier:

Ê: First of all, THANK YOU for creating a show to make science fun during remote learning! OK, what made you want to create a show like this for Netflix, since you must have had the idea before COVID?

EC: YES! We created and filmed all of this over a year ago, so no one could have predicted the challenges that families and educators are facing in terms of educating students right now. The goal of the show was always to make science exciting and entertaining and easily accessible. A big part of each episode is the at-home science experiment where viewers can bring the science of Emily’s Wonder Lab into their own homes. It’s such a fun, easy way to get kids excited about science and I really hope that families and educators find it useful!

Ê: We heard that when you studied engineering sometimes you were the only girl in a class. What would you say to girls who love STEM but might feel intimidated if there are not a lot of other girls in their class?

EC: Being the only girl in the class is your super power because that means that you may not think exactly like the other people in the class. You have had different experiences that are unique to you and that will allow you to think about problems a little bit differently, which is key to finding the best solutions to challenges. And when you find another girl in your class – befriend them. Having female friends and lifting each other up is a very powerful thing.

Ê: Speaking of lifting each other up, how can girls our age find female science role models outside of school?

EC: I think the best place to find female role models is on YouTube, social media, and of course TV and Netflix! I love people like Hood Naturalist, The Physics Girl, Raven the Science Maven, Vanessa Hill, Simone Giertz, Estefannie Explains it All, and Science Sam. These are people who have combined their personality and their passion for science in an incredible way and are great science role models for other kids to look up to.

Hold onto your lab coat, there’s more.

In the context of role models, Emily’s Wonder Lab accomplishes one other important thing. Not only does it add another female scientist to our students’ lines of sight, the show spotlights a visibly pregnant and enthusiastically active scientist – Emily filmed the show during her ninth month of pregnancy. The number of female scientists on television and movie screens remains disappointingly low (a study conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media reported that men outnumber women nearly two-to-one when portraying STEM characters in children’s media), and the number of expectant STEM role models our girls see in media is necessarily lower. Heartfelt applause to Netflix and Emily for addressing that representation gap in real time.

Overall, Emily’s Wonder Lab doesn’t just satisfy kids’ curiosity – it stokes creativity and springboards innovation with an empowering role model at the helm. We’re betting that this lab-turned-playground-turned-launching-pad for new ideas will be cheered by parents long after the current pandemic has passed.

No, I really don’t know why it takes so long for ketchup to come out.

Um, I don’t remember what non-Newtonian fluid is…exactly.

Tornadoes spin clockwise no matter where we live. Er – no. Wait…

I have no idea why things glow.

Pull up a chair. Grab a snack. Let’s find out together with Emily.

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