Getting kids interested in STEM is going beyond the classroom. Instead of talking about careers in science, technology, engineering and math through parents and teachers, YouTube Red Originals is showing tweens how it’s done. The new show “Hyperlinked” launched in May and features tween music group L2M. The series follows five girls as they come together to create their own website by girls for girls. The mission of the website is to help girls navigate everyday tween issues involving friends and relationships in school and at home.
We went behind the scenes at YouTube Space LA to talk to the girls about their characters. You can relate similarities in the characters with your own child and start a conversation about their interests in STEM. Jenna plays Olivia, who creates crafts and DIY videos on the show. “I really love how creative she is with her clothing,” says Jenna. “Not many people think girls can code…I love my character Justine because she’s very smart and she thinks outside of the box,” says Mckenzie, who dispels stereotypes in her role. Juliette is the chief encourager on the show, who is played by Mary who says, “I like her because she’s a perfectionist like me and she takes pride in her work.” Tatiana plays Izzy who she says is very much alike, “She likes to dance, rap and she’s very athletic and outgoing and has a great sense of humor.” Lexi plays Ella who loves being with her friends and expressing herself through fashion, a trait Lexi says she shares with her character.
Juliette Brindak, who started Miss O and Friends(MOF), is the inspiration behind the show. What is now a ten-episode series on YouTube Red, started as sketches of “cool girls,” Brindak created at age 10. Over time the characters became a way for Bridnak, her sister and her mom to explore girls’ issues through pretend play. But as Brindak realized her younger sister needed help navigating mean girls, boy crushes, and school anxiety through middle school, the idea expanded with the launch of the MOF website. “Our mission has always been to empower girls and to help build self-esteem for young girls because so many girls feel like they’re the only ones going through it.”
While the MOF COPPA-compliant site remains a safe platform for girls ages 8 through 14 to write their own articles, compete in contests and games, and build social connection, “Hyperlinked” expands the vision by inspiring girls to get involved in STEM and entrepreneurship. The goal of the show is to build agency in girls and show them how to become entrepreneurs and create their own community of support.
Brindak says the key to bringing young teens’ ideas to fruition is finding someone to believe in them. Brandak’s mom, Hermine, who’s also a producer on the show, was her believer. Brindak encourages parents to get involved so that their child can hone their skills, gain clarity of vision, and have help dealing with the ups, downs and doubts that come with creating something new.