7 Brilliant 90s Cartoons Which Made Us Science and Tech Lovers
The 1990s was a decade that would define a generation, in many ways. Particularly for those in their formative years, these cartoons might just have inspired them to pursue a career in STEM.
Whilst some of these are less obvious, we make no apologies, others were specifically purpose-built to educate children on the many wonders of science and technology.
This list is just some of the cartoons from this decade, though there were many other 'infotainment' shows at the time.
It goes without saying that this is also not intended to be a 'top' 7 of the many great cartoons from this decade.
1. Pinky and The Brain was a masterpiece
Series duration: 1995-1998
Pinky and The Brain first appeared in 1995 as a standalone series but the characters were originally a recurring segment in the Animaniacs. If you don't remember the series, the two main characters were genetically modified mice.
Brain was a self-centered and scheming 'genius' who constantly dreamed of world domination. Pinky, on the other hand, was his well-meaning but deeply idiotic counterpart.
To this end, Brain constantly dreamt up overly-complex plans often making using some cunning and highly advanced technology of his own creation. Needless to say, his plans were constantly foiled either through Brain's own arrogance or Pinky's complete incompetence.
If you haven't watched this in a while we can assure you it hasn't aged a day!
2. The Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles were awesome
Series duration: 1987-1996
Excusing its poetic licensing with the effects of toxic waste and mutagenic effects on reptiles, and other animals, this series helped shaped the scientists of the future. Whilst not overtly science-educational as a series, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles played its part in removing the stigma of science and tech being geeky.
We've included this series mainly for its best character (no arguments), Donatello. Sporting his awesome purple eye mask and bo staff, Donatello also happens to be the smartest of the four turtles.
Don, Donnie or Donny, was the team's technical specialist who often confounded his brothers with his 'technobabble'. He also happened to have a natural aptitude for all things science and technology and was responsible for some of the turtles' more high-tech kits.
He was also a pretty kick-ass member of the team. There is officially no author-bias here whatsoever...
3. The Magic School Bus was fun and educational
Series duration: 1994-1997
The Magic School Bus was a Canadian cartoon series that centered around the antics at a fictional elementary school teacher, Ms. Frizzle. In each episode, she would take her class on a ride on her "magic school bus" on field trips to unusual locations.
These included trips around the solar system, clouds, back in time or even inside the human body. The cartoon series was based on a series of books and was also later adapted into some video games.
The premise for the cartoons was to educate children in a fun and entertaining manner on matters of science, history, and technology. It was later aired in the United States through PBS and ran until 1997.
Netflix announced and released a reboot of the series in 2017 with Kate McKinnon as the voice of Ms. Frizzle's sister, and replacement, in the new series.
4. Back to the Future made science cool
Series duration: 1991-1992
Building on the success of the classic sci-fi trilogy of the 80s, the animated series is said to be more of a 'what if' alternative timeline rather than a continuation, per se, of the films. Interestingly, Bill Nye (the so-called Science-guy) made his television debut within this science cartoon series.
Whilst the premise of the Back to the Future films, and the cartoon, is centered around time travel, this series helped promote the 'cooler' aspects of science and technology. Dr. Emmett Brown, whilst rather eccentric, made science and technology appealing to children of all ages.
Whilst it's unlikely any viewers from the time have managed the same feat, we wonder how many were inspired to pursue a career in Science or Engineering because of him.
5. Pokemon had some cool tech
Series duration: 1997-ongoing
Pokemon, really? Yes really. Highly sophisticated Pokeball technology is able to capture living creatures, the Pokedex, 'evolution', and genetic engineering all feature in the series.
Ok, we are stretching a bit, but it certainly introduced some interesting science and technology concepts to young children. Whilst the real 'guts' of the franchise are the computer games and card game, the cartoon really brought it all to life for its young fans.
Pokemon has grown to become something of a behemoth since its origins in the mid-1990s and is still incredibly popular today. With advancements in genetic engineering over the years since it first aired, whose to say we might not see 'real' Pokemon in the not too distant future.
Although the Pokeballs might not be with us anytime soon. Not to speak of the ethics of making little creatures literally knock each other out.
6. The Land Before Time franchise inspired future scientists
Series duration: 1988-2008
OK, we are cheating a little bit here. Apart from the original cartoon produced by George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg of 1988, the others are basically unapologetic singalongs for young children. That being said, the late 1980s and 1990s were certainly a PR boon for paleontology the world over.
Animated series' like The Land Before Time franchise and Jurassic Park films certainly promoted Earth's prehistoric history more than any charismatic teacher ever could. It's doubtless that many current evolutionary biologists, paleontologists and geologists can trace their passion to this amazing decade.
As for the cartoon in question, having Lucas and Speilberg involved, you can be assured it's actually a masterpiece. If you have never seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it.
You will instantly fall in love with its characters and become engrossed in its storyline. For any parents watching, it hasn't aged a day and will keep your children entertained for a brief window of peace and quiet.
7. And lastly, Once Upon a Time... The Discoverers
Series duration: 1994
The Once Upon a Time… (Il était une fois... in French), also known as Micro Patrol, the franchise was an intermittent set of series' that cover various topics from space, the human body to the greatest inventive minds of all time. The franchise produced a series of 26-minute episodes every 3 or 4 years, with each on a completely different aspect of human civilization, science, and technology.
The series' was a joint French-Canadian-Belgian-Japanese-Swiss-Italian-Spanish animated television series produced in France and directed by Albert Barille. They were later aired in many other countries around the world.
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This particular series covered 26 episodes, each 26 minutes long, on particularly prominent polymaths, inventors, and scientists throughout history. Highlighted legends of discovery included Hero of Alexandria, Gutenberg, Galileo, and Albert Einstein, to name but a few.
This series, including earlier ones from the 80s, were all-purpose designed to teach children about important aspects of STEM in a fun and engaging way.
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