BOO Who?

Posted on: Friday 08 July 2011 2:46pm


Francesca Morosi blogs from “Boo Who?”



Jacqueline Harding, Director, Tomorrow’s Child

Luigi Petito, MD, Business Solutions Europa


Produced by:  Tom Cousins, Assistant Producer, BBC Children’s


Ever thought about getting your media project funded by the European Union?

European TV series My Friend Boo offers a brand new financing model for producing positive content for children

I have to say, this session made me really optimistic about the new opportunities for funding available to children media producers (perhaps secretly I am already dreaming about my own media project after my bit of research is done!)

Luigi Petito and Jacqueline Harding share their story and proposed an exciting financing model to produce new educational contain for children which is research-based and scientifically sounds.

The main idea was to build a platform which could bring together a range of fun and exciting animation projects aimed at raising awareness among children about major global issues such as energy conservation, the environment and health. The projects are all supported and co-founded by the European Commission,

To have some hope of having the EU supporting a media production – says Luigi Petito – it was important to convince funders that we were about generating material which is educational,  about issues needing urgent attention, age appropriate, based on solid research and fun. My friend Boo is an animation project split into three.

Each project in MY FRIEND BOO is aimed a children 5 to 8 and tackles a particular issue:

·         Eco animation (about water conservation): a series of three fun animated films for TV broadcast helping children becoming responsible water consumers with simple steps at home, in school and outdoors. A two year animation project.

·         Active (about obesity prevention): a series of animations to educate, entertain and inspire kids aged 5 to 8 to enjoy and adopt a healthier lifestyle by eating sensibly and getting fit.

·         YES (Young Energy Consumer): a fun and exciting new TV animation project aimed at raising awareness about energy consumption.

All animations are available to broadcasters in several languages (so far available in English, Bulgarian, Flemish/Dutch, Italian and Polish; many more are in production) and are accompanied by a free teaching pack for use in schools and other informal educational environments.

To watch some of the videos I invite you to visit

Jacqueline Harding talked to us about the scientific underpinning of this project, the research behind this highly successful resource pointing out that “there is a huge research community behind a project like this”.  She explains how it’s really important to evaluate the success of this kind of projects and how it’s now possible to measure the impact they have on kids brain thanks to the advancement in neuroscience through the use of magnetic resonance.

She add that “there is a significant body of research about the impact of animated movies on kids’ brains and how they retain knowledge”. For what I understood, animation would actually impact the part of the brain – the medial frontal cortex (very interesting topic if you want to goggle it) – which is more active in retaining information and regulating behaviour.  Through magnetic resonance we can actually measure this process and it’s clear that this kind of animated movies is highly successful in working at subliminal level in kid’s mind. Apparently though, the right part of the brain is impacted only in certain conditions: provided that children feel a personal affinity (e.g. using children characters) and with the avoidance of too much background or details which could distract or confuse viewers from the main message.

So, research tells us that with cartoon characters children learn more easily: these kind of productions can really produce an impact as they are able to better bypass barriers in the brain, much better than any didactic approach. (BTW research shows that didactic teaching doesn’t work and watching my 8 year old boy’s learning about rockets through resource such as Brainpop or Education City, this doesn’t come as a surprise!)

Adds Jacqueline: “More than this, animation transcends barriers, this explains why success has been phenomenal in so many countries”

A breath of optimism for anyone involved in animation movies I would say… 🙂