Sunday, November 15, 2009

Curious about Curiosity Quest

Curiosity Quest is an award winning television series that airs on PBS in some parts of the country. In each episode, host Joel Greene goes on a quest to answer viewers questions. Those of us who don't get Curiosity Quest on TV, can watch it on DVD.

The DVD's are available at the
Curiosity Quest Store for $19.95 each + $2.00 shipping. Consider these as a gift for the child who asks a lot of questions or for home schooling.

Our friend Duncan was a guest reviewer, and Mollie, Duncan's mom, wrote the review. Duncan reviewed two videos.

U.S Postal Service

Curiosity Quest Goes Green: Sanitary Landfill

Duncan is five years old, and we already know he will be an engineer or a scientist someday. He needs to know how everything works, from the sink to the ski bindings, from the television to volcanoes. We figure it's only a matter of a year or two before he starts taking things apart to see what's inside. Which is why Sara thought of us when she got some Curiosity Quest DVDs to review. The series attempts to provide answers to real kids' questions, and I think Sara was hoping to help me stave off the time when I come back in the room to find the toaster disassembled.

Curiosity Quest is produced in Southern California for KCVR TV, and is also available on various PBS channels and as a DVD series. The format of the show is that children write to the host, asking questions about things that have sparked their curiosity, and the host, Joel Greene, goes out (with cameras) to find the answers.

Duncan enjoyed the DVDs, which were the "Post Office" and "Curiosity Quest Goes Green" episodes, and asked to watch them several times, so that he "could give the best answers about how good they are."

Duncan especially enjoyed the Post Office episode, because, as he said, he "always wanted to know what they did back there, behind the counter, where we can't see." This is a good episode for small boys who like machines, because we got to see letter sorters that "go really fast. Mommy, do you think they need to be careful of their hands so they don't get hurt and the letters don't get covered in blood?" Perfect fodder for a five year old boy, as was the segment when the host drove the forklift-like vehicle (electric mule) around the sorting facility.

The repetitive nature of the lessons is a bit much for grown-ups, but not for five year olds. By the end, Duncan was shouting, "you can't touch the mail" when the host tried to hold the letters. Duncan said, "even I know that only you get to touch the letters you mail, and the postman can, too. No one else. That's a very important thing about the mail. That's called the sanctity." Lesson learned, young man.

Duncan said, "There's nothing I don't like about this one, except when they ask questions [of people on the street]. Because it's more like news, with a microphone. It would be better, and wouldn't feel like news, if they only asked kids questions, instead of some grown-ups." While none of the interview subjects seemed terribly adult to me, I think he was referring to two young women in their late teens. They seemed much older than the audience of the show, and clearly he felt he couldn't relate to them as well as the younger children.

Duncan was a little less interested in the Recycling/Goes Green DVD, probably because we live in a place where recycling and sustainability are topics of constant conversation. He did like the machines at the dump, though, and was interested to see how many crazy things end up at the landfill. "They even put MATTRESSES there!"

He thought this one would be "good for kids who don't know as much as me about recycling, because then they wouldn't send so much to the landfill. . . they need to sort at home, like with our boxes in the garage. Because it's lots of work to find all those things and get them out before the landfill closes at night and they bury everything." As his mom, I concur that this one was a little less science-y and exciting, but it does teach some good lessons about the way we need to care for the earth, and teaching these things to children is a great way to start.

True to form, Duncan ended our DVD-watching session with a question. "Mommy, how does the DVD player read the disc when is only silver?" And he was intently eying that DVD player like he wanted to take it apart.

Hey Curiosity Quest, do you want to explain how a DVD player works?

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