"Rocket 69“ is an educational scientific entertaining TV contest for young people to show that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) can be fun and I can do it, while offering excitement and new knowledge. The name of the show comes from the fact that on 1969 the first man stepped on the Moon.
All students starting from age 15 until university students from 1st or 2nd year of studies can apply for the show. 15 contestants are chosen through casting and the casting process makes up the 1st episode of the show.
Contestants solve the assignments in groups and from 10th episode also individually. In the end of each episode one contestant has to leave after 1:1 scientific duel. All assignments demand creativity, theoretical scientific knowledge and ability to use it in practices.
In the Grand Finale 2 finalists have to solve complex assignment that will show all their abilities. There is 1 personal winner who wins the 10 000€ scholarship to support his/her studies.
The Judging panel consists of Host of the show (young scientist) and 3 main judges who are also researchers.
Locations. 9 episodes are shot in a studio built for the show. Starting from 10th episode the locations vary – different science labs and research organizations, companies etc. For the Grand Finale studio will be built up again.
Production consists of 2 teams: TV Production Team and Science Editor Team. Science Editor and its team consist of mainly young scientists design the assignments. Together with the TV production team they prepare the assignments, to have both the scientific content and the visual attractiveness joined in the action.
All assignments and solutions are explained with voice-over, by graphical illustrations during the show and also commented by judges. In addition the Science Editor creates deeper explanations in web for each assignment that can be used as STEM teaching material at school. The show is supported by cross-media approach – radio, newspapers, web, Facebook and other social media channels.
The format of the Rocket69 has been developed in the framework of the TeaMe programme of the Estonian Research Council with co-financing from the European Social Fund, European Regional Fund and the Estonian state.
The reach is very different on different Seasons (8th will start in January 2018). We could say that the average reach per episode through the Seasons has been 80-100 000 inlcuding children under 12 who are not part of the media-monitoring system.
It is difficult to measure the direct impact of TV-show, but we can see the signs in the society that it has had an impact.
At school we can see that the Assignments from TV-episodes are directly used in STEM classes or teachers get ideas for creating their own team-assignments for the classes (we do have up to 45 assignments in stock per season). Rocket69-format has become a teaching method. Rocket69 roadshows go to schools involving former participants and judges (reseachers) and Rocket69 participants have become real stars in real life.
And also in society – young children who are not yet in the age of entering Rocket69 keep asking will there still be the show when I grow up and tell their parents to organise their birthday parties in Rocket69 style. Last year there were these 2 random leads in our daily newspapares talking about the finals of Season 7:
„It’s a very unusual show at Estonian TV landscape: they do not show psychics telling you how to find your happiness or famous people making fools of themselves. Instead you really learn something new each episode, while also getting entertained. Very rare in our media!“
„Rocket69 is exiting! The final of the Season 7 was like duel of cross-country skiers Thomas Wassberg and Juha Mieto at Lake Placid Olympics on 1980!“
The show is currently mainly funded from European Structural funds and in addition by local companies and univeristies.