Series 1983 -
For kids like me, when you saw that multicolored hot air balloon float across the tv screen, you knew you were in for some quality programming. Of course, at that age, you didn't call it "quality programming," you called it "a really cool show." And that was the secret--it was "quality programming", sure, but it was also interesting. You didn't realize that it was meant to be good for you, you just knew that the story was really good.
Wonderworks was a series that ran on PBS during the 1980s and 1990s (I haven't seen any episodes recently, so I assume it is no longer being produced). It's focus was on creating programming for the older children, around age 12. Unlike, say, the series programming for younger children (Sesame Street, The Electric Company), Wonderworks was an anthology series, more akin to Masterpiece Theater. It's first episode was Booker, the story of Booker T. Washington, which won numerous awards for children's programming.
For the most part, the series is known for its adaptations of novels, such as Anne of Green Gables, it's best known and possibly best-loved program, originally produced (IIRC) by the CBC. Other programs included the three-part Chronicles of Narnia (1988) series produced by the BBC, and Jacob Have I Loved--both already children's classics in print. In fact, many of the better-known programs were imports from Britain and Canada.
More recent programming has been focused on original, modern stories, though the plots do often include elements of fantasy (time travel, other worlds), as well as social commentary (racism, etc.).
There is also a science museum in Orlando, Florida
called "WonderWorks." Its website is http://www.wonderworksonline.com