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Best of… Children’s Science TV!

Some parents love television and some people hate it, but there’s no denying that it plays a large part in almost every child’s development today. However, this blog post isn’t about whether kids should watch TV or not- it’s about the sorts of programmes that are  on offer. Are there really shows out there which are both educational and fun? Or does one have to be sacrificed for the sake of the other?

Bill Nye the Science Guy

I somehow managed to miss this for my entire childhood, and have only recently stumbled upon the gem that is Bill Nye the Science Guy. I don’t know how I missed it; in the last year I’ve been hearing about the show everywhere.

The 17 Emmy-award winning show originally aired from 1993 to 1998, spanning 100 episodes. Each episode tackles a different scientific issue, using a perfectly balanced mixture of science, action and humour to explain science to a preteen audience. Most episodes feature extremely nifty science-based parodies of popular songs, which is an interesting approach to a subject which is often written off as dry. This one is my favourite:


 

The Magic School Bus

Now here’s one I do remember from childhood! Another 90s show, The Magic School Bus told the story of… wait, did you guess? Yeah- a magical school bus, which was transported to impossible science-y locations by the Time-Lord teacher, Ms Frizzle. They zoomed around the human body, the solar system and clouds, and time travel with ease. In short, this show made science and learning really frickin’ fun. As a kid, who wouldn’t have wanted their school bus to turn into a spaceship, or shrink to minute sizes and find out about digestion first-hand? Although it’s a little dated now, it’s still a nifty children’s science show. This was always my favourite episode; bio-nerd alert!


 

 Sid the Science Kid

And now for a newer pick- Sid the Science kid is a 2008 PBS show (PBS love kiddie science, don’t they?) aimed at pre-school children. The premise is that Sid is an inquisitive child, asking questions about basic scientific principles and “how things work”. The episodes of each week are based around a single scientific principle, with a round-up episode as the last of the week. These principles include basic machinery, the senses, the human body, weather and more, and they’re tackled in a fun, educational way which is perfect for young kids. Although Melanie says the kid annoys her. But the science is sound!

Dinosaur Train

From the makers of Sid the Science Kid, we also have Dinosaur Train- a sweet show about a T-Rex named Buddy who rides the dino-train round his prehistoric homeland to meet lots of different dinosaurs. I love that there are “time tunnels” in this show which let Buddy meet the dinos from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. It also has a cute-but-educational segment called “Buddy has a hypothesis”, which explains to young children what a hypothesis is. The animation is so cute! I want a little Buddy. Also, this song. So much love for this song. Did you know that the Zigongosaurus gets you to the chorus? Now you do.

 MythBusters

Yeah, I know- MythBusters isn’t a children’s show. However, it’s certainly suitable for and loved by children, so why shouldn’t it be included? It’s a show which fosters a love for science, an interest in the scientific method and a passion for busting myths- something that all of the Skepchicks enjoy very much. The show stars our favourite special effects experts, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, who set up experiments to test the validity of various myths, urban legends and suspicious news stories. It’s a fun, engaging show for the whole family-there are parts where they look over the case, build the experiment and test their hypothesis. This means that regardless of whether you like the thinking part, the building part or the blowing-up-stuff part, you’ll find something to love in MythBusters.

 

There were a bunch more shows which could have been mentioned, but these were the favourites! If you have any other suggestions or honourable mentions (we would like to plug Horrible Histories cos it’s a great factual history show, and My Little Pony… just because) then comment below!

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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beccy

beccy

5 Comments

  1. February 19, 2012 at 5:03 pm —

    May I suggest Beakman’s World? I saw it a few times while flipping through the channels when I was a teenager. When I first saw an episode, which was about hydraulics, I thought it was a really good science show for kids.

  2. February 20, 2012 at 2:43 pm —

    Truthfully, I was never particularly into kids’ science shows–aside from Bill Nye, *obviously*! I do remember watching Cyberchase on occasion, though, when it first came out on PBS; it was 2002, and I was in the fourth grade, so I’d turn it on if there was nothing else to watch in the afternoon. It’s not a science show per se, but it does aim to teach kids *mathematical* reasoning, so it is, at least, STEM-related.

    Other than that, I mostly just watched a lot of science fiction–Stargate SG-1 for the win!–and, naturally, MacGyver, which is pretty science-y, too! Eventually, Numb3rs came out when I was in middle school, and I was fairly obsessed with that–although, now that I’m a math major, in retrospect, it’s not a terribly math-heavy show at all!

    Also, I will never get tired of watching Wishbone reenact The Time Machine. Adorable! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAs7sH2d_6I&t=4m33s

  3. February 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm —

    All kids’ shows, even the best of them, have at least one annoying character. I’m pretty sure it’s the law.

    Team Umizoomi is a good math one for really young kids.

  4. February 22, 2012 at 5:44 pm —

    This is probably unheard of except for in NZ and probably, like, Fiji or something, but I grew up on Suzy Cato’s ‘You and Me’. That show wasn’t specifically about science, although IIRC (and it has been a loooong time!) she often covered science topics.

    She later went on to make a show called ‘Suzy’s World’ that was very much all about science. My favourite (and, incidentally, the only one I could find online) was the one about digestion: http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/suzys-world-digestion-2010

    • February 22, 2012 at 5:50 pm —

      It is also really gross, as one might expect from a show about digestion, lol.

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