Ada Twist, Scientist





Kennedy Unthank

TV Series Review

Ada Twist is an 8-year-old scientist extremely interested in understanding the world around her. She loves to brainstorm hypotheses, and with the help of her friends Iggy Peck and Rosie Revere, she uses the scientific method to answer them. With Iggy working on all things architecture and Rosie as their trusty engineer, there’s no question that goes untested!

Ada Twist, Hit or Miss

Ada Twist, Scientist is based on a book of the same name written by Andrea Beaty. The title character “possesses a keen yet peculiar need to question everything she encounters,” according to a book review by the School Library Journal, and indeed, whether on page or on screen, she puts this inquisitive nature into action. She questions why the inflatable pool takes longer to fill up on a hot day. She questions why the piano is out of tune. She even questions why she wakes up at the same time each day!

Ada Twist, Scientist was brought to the screen by Chris Nee through Barack and Michelle Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground. Ada, with the help of her friends Iggy and Rosie, teaches children about the scientific method, and each episode walks us through how to solve a problem using critical thinking skills and testing. At the end of each episode, a real scientist briefly explains a real-life scenario of the scientific topic explored by Ada in the episode.

Sometimes, they don’t always get the answer that they’re looking for, nor do their experiments always work on the first test. But that doesn’t discourage Ada, and it’s a good lesson for the preschool audience the show was made for: Sometimes, achieving results takes hard work and trial and error. Oftentimes, we may see a lot of failure before we see success. But failure by itself doesn’t necessarily mean we need to abandon all hope of accomplishing what we set out to do. Sometimes, it’s just a way to rule out one path so we can take another.

And parents can add their own more faith-oriented spin on the show. Because the universe was created by an intentional and intelligent God, we can seek to understand that universe to understand God better, too. In fact, many famous scientists studied the world in order to know and worship God, such as Johannes Kepler, Gregor Mendel, Francis Bacon and many more.

Nicolaus Copernicus puts it best: “To know the mighty works of God, to comprehend His wisdom and majesty and power…surely all this must be a pleasing and acceptable mode of worship to the Most High, to whom ignorance cannot be more grateful than knowledge.”

Though science and religion are often pitted against one another (often by those firmly planted in one camp and suspicious of the other), understanding God’s creation is an admirable pursuit. Ada Twist, Scientist helps to provide young children with an excitement for the world God made.

There aren’t many content concerns in this show. Ada’s older brother Arthur tends to find Ada’s experiments a bit boring until he sees the results play out. Very occasionally, Ada’s parents will share a quick kiss or affectionate words with one another. But for the most part, this is an innocent and enjoyable show about uncovering the wonder and beauty of the world around us. And that’s a nice twist itself.  

Episode Reviews

Jan. 25, 2022: “The Curious Case of Lil’ Liz/Cat on a Hot Twist Roof”

Ada Twist and friends construct ways to bring back her brother Arthur’s pet lizard; The friends must work together to get the family cat off the roof.

In the first episode, Arthur shows Ada his new pet lizard, much to her fright. Lizards give Ada the “heebie-jeebies,” but because she sees how much Arthur loves Lil’ Liz, she promises to take care of it while he’s away. However, the latch on the cage doesn’t secure properly, and Lil’ Liz escapes. The trio briefly interrogates Mooshu the family cat on whether it ate the lizard.

Though Ada and her friends briefly lie about it to Arthur, Ada eventually confesses the truth. Arthur, wanting to be a good big brother, is upset, but he forgives her, and they think up ways to bring the lizard back.

In the next episode, Arthur has saved up money to buy a toy helicopter, and he is excited to fly it. However, when he goes to get batteries, Mooshu steals it and runs on top of the roof, and the cat will not come down. They cannot use the ladder while their parents are away, so they brainstorm ideas on how to safely get both Mooshu and the helicopter back down.

Arthur attempts to accomplish this through magic tricks and a crudely constructed ladder of bamboo and racquets, the latter of which leaves him falling to the ground. He challenges Ada, Iggy and Rosie to compete against one another for a better way up to the roof: Whoever’s idea works, he will let fly the helicopter. However, when all their ideas fail, they realize they must work together in order to succeed, sacrificing a chance to fly the helicopter in favor of cooperating to save Mooshu and help Arthur. After their plan succeeds, Arthur gives them all a turn anyway.

At one point, Ada, Iggy and Rosie ingest helium while filling up balloons.

Sept. 28, 2021: “A Fort of One’s Own/Twelve Angry Birds”

Ada Twist and her friends learn about chain reactions and evaporation.

Ada Twist’s older brother, Arthur, has constructed a large fort outside, and Iggy wants to look inside. However, Arthur only agrees to let them in if they can open the locked door without coming near the fort. Ada and her friends build a Rube Goldberg machine in order to accomplish this task. Then, an aerospace engineer explains how the chain reactions on the James Webb Space Telescope work.

In the next episode, Ada and her friends wonder why a crowd of birds are angry, and they discover that the bird feeder has no water. Ada’s mother suspects their cat as the culprit. Fearing that Ada’s mother will send the cat away, Ada and friends deduce that the water has actually evaporated due to the heat of the day, and Ada’s mother reassures her that she was never going to get rid of the cat–just give it another bowl of water.

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Kennedy Unthank

Though he was born in Kansas, Kennedy Unthank betrayed his roots by leaving the wheat behind to study journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics and hermeneutics.

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