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EXPLR Media Founder Jenny Buccos on Sparking Curiosity and Conversations in the Classroom

March 14, 2022

The last two years have been extraordinarily stressful for students, parents and educators. The dislocation of the pandemic has also accelerated the adoption of new technology into the classroom that provides more flexibility in how education is delivered. Consistent with our mission to celebrate education excellence, we recently sat down with Jenny Buccos, Founder & Head of Content for EXPLR Media, an education streaming service that “creates standards-aligned videos to educate, inspire, and empower young people to become agents of change.” We’re excited to share Jenny’s vision on the future of education.

EXPLR Media Founder Jenny Buccos

James Morehead: To provide context, what is your elevator pitch for EXPLR?

Jenny Buccos: “EXPLR Home is an ad-free subscription streaming service for tweens and teens. We provide carefully curated educational content that sparks curiosity and encourages the exploration of new ideas. Our classroom version of the platform, EXPLR-Classroom, includes affordable school subscription plans, standards-aligned lessons and professional development resources. All of our content is relevant, relatable, and real-world – covering core learning (e.g. STEM, social studies, arts ed), career exploration, financial literacy, social-emotional learning, mental health and well-being, and more.”

Morehead: How has the pandemic changed education, and the need for services like EXPLR?

Buccos: “The pandemic has highlighted so many areas where improvement is needed in the education system – but it’s also shone a light on the heroic educators, parents and guardians making do with very few resources in challenging circumstances. 

“I have been producing entertaining and educational content for educators to enhance and expand their curriculum for over two decades. The pandemic absolutely lent urgency to our launch of the EXPLR platform, and I’m so grateful that my team was willing to do whatever it took to make it happen. Now that learning is shifting back to in-classroom however, that urgency hasn’t disappeared. Parents and educators are desperate for fresh, exciting content that supports core curriculum and encourages independent learning.”

Parents and educators are desperate for fresh, exciting content that supports core curriculum and encourages independent learning.

Jenny Buccos – Founder, EXPLR Media

Morehead: Introducing anything new into the classroom is challenging. How have you partnered with educators so that EXPLR benefits students and saves teachers time?

Buccos: “EXPLR Classroom is the result of years of working with educators to determine their needs. EXPLR is a single platform that provides educational videos, curriculum based lesson plans, and professional development. Our content is up-to-date, inclusive, diverse, relatable, solution oriented… and entertaining! EXPLR features award winning videos from producers all over the world on a full range of topics. 

“We’ve partnered with World Savvy to create classroom-ready lesson plans that are suitable for both in-class and remote learning and cover all core subjects for students aged 9 – 15. Our lessons reduce teacher planning time by at least 50%, and are easily incorporated into existing curriculum. We want educators to be able to focus on helping students catch up, get ahead, and accelerate learning.” 

Morehead: EXPLR has built up an impressive catalog of education programming. Share some details about a few series that represent the best of what EXPLR has to offer.

Buccos: “A recent favorite is a new EXPLR original series called Origin Stories which captures a day-on-the job with heroes in emerging and essential professions. Each hero shares their professional story, but includes relatable personal details too – encouraging young people to look for the heroes in their own lives.

“We also have some phenomenal animated content that addresses tricky subjects in a fun way. Awkward, for example, is a positive spin on those cringy socially awkward moments that everyone experiences – especially during the school years. It’s a great example of empathy building content. The lesson plan for that one is about exploring positive self talk.”

Morehead: Delivering such high quality education content in under ten minute video episodes is remarkable. Take me behind-the-scenes – what goes into creating EXPLR content?

Buccos: “I’ve been producing educational content for over two decades and I can say with confidence that no two productions are the same. Each comes with its own set of challenges and rewards. 

“Technically, we put a lot of time and effort into pre-production, researching and writing and planning. We don’t shy away from difficult topics and it’s important for us to find ways to relay factual information in a positive, solution-based framework. That can be tough sometimes, but creating a series like Crash Test World, where my co-founder Kari Byron travels the world to find answers to the world’s biggest problems, is the ultimate proof for me that it’s always possible.

(L-R) Jenny Buccos, Justin Shaifer, Kari Byron – on set filming Everyday Science Stuff for EXPLR Media

“We put a lot of thought into locations and casting. We want to show the world and that involves many moving parts and personalities. I’m lucky to have an amazing team of flexible, like-minded professionals who are willing to take creative risks and are open to new experiences and perspectives. We make art the scientific way – we seek to disprove our own theories about the way we think things should be.”

Morehead: What have you learned from the early adopters of EXPLR?

Buccos: “We consistently get feedback from parents that their kids are starting conversations with them about videos they’ve seen on EXPLR, and asking to learn more. That has motivated us to really find that sparking-point of any given subject. Our videos need to be interesting and fun – regardless of how ‘typical’ the subject matter. Take Sums of Anarchy, for example. It’s a wildly wacky series about math, featuring compelling characters and locations. We’ve had amazing feedback about that one. 

“We also had an immediate demand for more original content – our early adopters knew what was already out there and were desperate for more of what we were producing! We pushed hard to accelerate production on a number of new series – a challenge we were happy to accept.

“Other feedback has been that our personal take on global stories has helped build empathy, self regulation, acceptance, and understanding in the classroom and at home. That’s the side effect we were hoping for.”

Morehead: To the extent you can share details, what future opportunities for EXPLR programming excite you the most?

Buccos: “We have numerous STEM series in the research and planning stage including building a rollercoaster! Yes, a real rollercoaster! We’re also working on a financial literacy series.

“However, I think the most exciting part is the presenters, experts and storytellers we’re working with. We believe ‘if you see it, you can be it!’ and our focus is to ensure that all of our student viewers can see themselves and their experiences reflected in our videos. Discovering these new voices is probably the best part of my job!”

Morehead: Finally, from the stories you’ve told on EXPLR, what makes you most hopeful about the future?

Buccos “I’m hopeful that despite the circumstances that brought it about, educational equity is now on the front burner. Parents and teachers need support. Kids need to be excited by the good stuff.”

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